Mgr Elżbieta Benkowska
(University of Gdańsk, Faculty of Languages, PhD candidate)

We believe only in BKS… Religious Motifs in the Chants of Polish and Serbian Football Fans

People have always been trying to intervene in their own fate in order to realise their hopes and prevent their fears. Today this is the main function of the rituals of football fans in Poland and Serbia. During the 90 minutes of a football game, people sing, wave their scarves, flags, T-shirts and jump to the rhythm of the drums, doing all this to help their team win. They believe that their rituals will bring prosperity to their club and make it easier for the team to win the championship. Moreover, for the fans both the club and their faith in are like an invisible religion that bonds them together and builds their identity. Analysing religious motifs in the chants of Polish and Serbian football fans, I attempt to examine whether the ritual of a football match and supporting the team is a compensation for the lack of social bonds of religion and worldview.




Dr Tsvetelina Dimitrova
(Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria)

Sacred Places and National Identity: The Case of Chepino, Velingrad, in South-Western Bulgaria

The text presents an emblematic case of the village of Chepino (today a district of the town of Velingrad) concerning the contemporary processes of ‘return to religion’ and their close connection with the tendency to reassert national and local identity. In this case, we are talking about building a chapel (2002) dedicated to St Prophet Elijah on the site of an old structure restored in the 1920s and 1930s. Both occasions involved a prophetic dream as the main narrative topos of the stories of miraculous icons and relics. Much like the 1920s and 1930s, the post-socialist period has seen processes of the re-establishment of national and local identity bearing a distinct mark of Bulgarian and Orthodox-Christian consciousness as an immanent unity. The corresponding locus, Chepino district of Velingrad, in turn, is considered their axiological centre, providing symbolic capital stemming from the Christian and Bulgarian historical ‘pantheon’. The newly discovered Thracian sanctuary in the immediate vicinity, connected with the Bessian tribes and their Orphic religious doctrine, shaped the sacred status of the entire area as a kind of ‘hierotropy’. Of particular interest is the fact that Velingrad is a ‘contact zone’ between Islam and Christianity. While oral pseudohistorical narratives include a story about the violent suppression of the region in the 17th century and the mass destruction of Christian temples by the Ottoman conquerors, in fact it appears that it was the Muslim population that kept the memory of the sacred places, which they passed to the newly arrived Christians at the beginning of the 20th century (Nevrokop and Razlog).




Dr Ewelina Drzewiecka
(Institute of Slavic Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences)

Postsecular Thought and Literary Studies: New Perspectives

The presentation proposes a typology of postsecular research which could shed a new light on the relationships between postsecularism and literary studies. It argues that the discourse of literary studies is of primary importance for the study of the relationship between religion and modernity, firstly because of its entanglement in the grand narrative of secularism, and secondly because of the character of literary studies. The author calls for an in-depth selfinterrogation and argues that scholars should turn their attention to literatures and literary studies rooted in ‘Eastern European’ cultures, because, as ‘peripheral,’ they can reveal the underbelly of the modernisation narrative, and thus – bring about a re-evaluation of the ‘Western’ narrative of modernity. For this reason, the author proposes the adoption of a research orientation that would merge crypto-theological approach and epistemic sensitivity that is characteristic for literary studies.




Dr hab. Anna Gawarecka
(Institute of Slavic Studies, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland)

Surprise or Approval? The Picture of Religious Experience in Vyhnanci (The Exiles) by Františka Jirousová

The rapid progress of atheisation and secularisation of Czech society is a process that draws interest of specialists in political science, religious studies, sociology, social psychology and cultural studies both in the country and abroad. It is often approached as a result of the unsettlement and disintegration of firmly established traditional models of identity, stemming from the universally shared belief in the existence and presence of the supreme power perceived as the source and guarantor of the absolute ontological and ethical rules governing the anthroposphere. This interest is often marked by anxiety caused by the growing centrifugal tendencies observed in the context of the worldview which make it difficult to find a common axiological denominator or a platform of understanding respected by all members of the collective and constructed on the basis of uniform and generally shared axiological systems. On the other hand, this anxiety stimulates a discussion on the necessity of search for new frames of identification. One example of such anxiety is the novel Vyhnanci (The Exiles) by Františka Jirousová, revolving around the existential dilemmas of a group of young people and the decision of one of the characters to join a convent. The book was awarded the high-profile Jiří Orten Prize for literature (2011), which means that questions concerning the role of authentic religious attitudes resurface in Czech public discourse and regain the importance they seemingly lost.





Mgr Dominika Gapska
(Institute of Slavic Studies, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland)

Women’s Spirituality in Postsecular Serbia

The aim of this paper is to present the development of Orthodox female spirituality after 1989. I would like to show how the spiritual tradition of the past (by which I mean the cult of female saints and the female monastic tradition) creates the codes of meaning in postsecular Serbia. The current research (M. Bakić-Hayden 2003) demonstrates a significant growth of interest in religion among Serbian women, who are rediscovering the role of spiritual mothers as counsellors and guides in religious and social matters. This is also connected with an increasing number of monastic callings among women. Monastic life is now reclaiming its position in society and reveals its heritage of the Serbian past, for example by showing that female saints were major figures in Serbian history and culture.




Dr hab. Ola Hnatiuk, prof. UW

(University of Warsaw / Kyiv-Mohyla Academy)

New dimensions of religiosity in contemporary Ukraine (on overview of the changes of public space, 1989-2017)

Starting point of my presentation will be the alternative to official atheism - quasi-religious movements such as White Brotherhood, Kashpirovsky TV programs, and Ukrainian Sacred Republic (project invited by Ukrainian fantasy writer and former dissident, Oles Berdnyk). All of them served as protection against the real problem: the huge movement of Greek Catholic believers, who demanded to legalize Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the USSR. Late 80s were the period of engaging people not only in political and social mass-protests, but also in religious movements. Especially believers of the underground Greek Catholic Church were visible in public space. They have organized first public service, first Christmas celebration in the Opera House. Eventually, they achieved legalization through mass protests (gathering 300,000 participants). It was the first time after II WW (in West Ukraine) or after Bolshevik's Revolution (in Central Ukraine), of public celebration of religiosity in Ukraine. However, the society was fully secular. The second part of my presentation will be focused on religious and ethnic diversity of Ukrainian society. All world-wide religions are presented in contemporary Ukraine. The most popular is Orthodox Church, but it is divided into three different branches: Moscow Patriarchate (up to 80% of Orthodox believers), Kyiv Patriarchate Orthodox Church and Auto-cephalic Orthodox Church. There are other Christian Churches: Greek Catholic (mostly in Western Ukraine), Roman-Catholic Church, Protestant Church, and other minor confessions (Western and Eastern). There are also different branches of judaism (Orthodox and Modern), as well as encrising muslim community. They are visible in today's public space. I will turn attention also on celebrations of Christian and Jewish holidays, private practices in public space. The last part of my presentation will be devoted to the new kind of religiosity in public space, which appeared during Maidan 2013-2014. Ecumenic temple established on Maidan, day-and-night prays, speeches given by the head of Orthodox Church and Greek Catholic Church, as well as Chief Rabin of Kyiv, could be treated as the exemplification of a new phenomenon in Ukraine. I will name it ecumenical religiosity.    




Mgr Paula Kiczek
(Institute of Western and Southern Slavic Studies, University of Warsaw)

Faith beyond Doctrines – Faith in the Dialogue: Reflections on the Philosophical Anthropology of Milan Machovec

Czech philosopher and dissident Milan Machovec was an initiator of the so-called ‘seminars of dialogue’ held in the early 1960s at the Charles University in Prague and followed by similar events abroad, mostly in German-speaking circles. Attended by Egon Bondy, Milan Opočenský, Jan Sokol, Zdeněk Neubauer, Ladislav Hejdánek and others, the meetings were originally meant as a platform of dialogue between Marxism and Christianity, although the religious and ideological limits were in fact largely overstepped. Machovec also developed close relations with Erich Fromm and Ernst Bloch. Although his views and dissident activity led to his expulsion from the university in 1970, he continued the lectures in his apartment and became closely connected with the Czech cultural underground. Milan Machovec is an emblematic example of an individual who encounters the postsecular world with its ambiguous possibilities offered by the disillusionment with traditional faith and by the experience of the totalitarian regime and the crisis of civilisation. His thought is far from a systematic philosophy and tends to turn towards the Socratic practice of questioning persistent dogmas. His main concern was to seek a deep understanding of spiritual needs of contemporary people. The aim of this brief presentation is to recall the significance of Machovec’s thought in a broad context of postsecularism, as it is still valid today.




Dr Kamila Klingorová

(Department of Social Geography and Regional Development, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic)

Women’s Everyday Experience of Religion and Spirituality in Postsecular Czechia: A Geographical Approach (co-written with Tomáš Havlíček and Zdeněk Vojtíšek)

In this paper, we approach religion and spirituality through the analytic lens of geography. Our research in Czechia focuses on how space and society interact with postsecular trends in one of the most secularised countries worldwide. The paper draws on the discussion about postsecularism in the context of post-communist Czechia. Since the fall of the communist regime, the country has experienced a dynamic development of religions and spirituality. Today, although about 80% of the population do not declare any religious affiliation, ‘new’ religious and spiritual movements are on the rise, while such traditional religions as Catholicism and Protestantism are becoming increasingly pluralised and deinstitutionalised. Thus, contradictory processes of sacralisation and secularisation are at play in Czechia, which is particularly apparent in the social and geographical landscape of Prague. Aware of the postsecular transformation in Czechia, we studied the example of ordinary women in order to investigate how they construct and perceive sacred places through their embodied, emotional, and spatially varying practices. We participated in them with a group of religious, spiritual and non-religious women and analysed how they construct their sacred and spiritual places in their everyday spaces. Our results indicate that the participants turn places that are not primarily associated with religion or spirituality into sacred or spiritual ones, while at the same time integrating officially sacred spaces into their daily lives through social activities. Consequently, we argue that sacred space is not fixed in any particular location and that its construction involves a continuous emotional and personal investment on the part of ordinary women. In the discussion of postsecularism, our research thus turns attention to the subjectively experienced religion and spirituality, which helps to explain the relationship between the sacred and secular in space and society.




Dr Magdalena Lubańska
(Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw)

Post-Memory of the Suffering of the Homo Sacer in the Region of Subcarpathia, Poland: A Post-Secular Anthropological View

This paper will focus on the difficult post-memory of atrocities committed in 1945–1946 in a Subcarpathian forest near the town of Przeworsk. The atrocities were committed by local roving gangs against Polish repatriates, including neighbours, returning to the area from the West. I will demonstrate how the victims are commemorated, and how the post-memory of those events finds its expression today. I will be relying on interpretive tools developed in post-secular theory as proposed by the anthropologist Talal Asad and the philosopher Giorgio Agamben.




Mgr Magdalena Maszkiewicz
(Institute of Slavic Studies, Jagiellonian University, Poland)

Unorthodox Experience of Faith in Ivan V. Lalić’s and Miodrag Pavlović’s Poetry: A Comparative Study

The paper aims to present two models of unorthodox, Christianity-related religious experience in the poetry of two twentieth-century Serbian authors: Ivan V. Lalić (1931–1996) and Miodrag Pavlović (1928–2014). In their works both poets reflect on the existential situation of the contemporary human being by re-interpreting texts of culture from antiquity to modern times. This paper is a comparative analysis of their poems referring to Christian texts: the Bible, Byzantine and Orthodox literature. In Lalić’s poetry, especially in his collections Pismo (1992) and Četiri kanona (1996), God is presented as a capricious and unpredictable, yet silent and mostly absent being. The lyrical speaker feels doubt, enhanced by the experience of death and evanescence, nevertheless, love inspires him to constantly search for a relationship with God. However, the effort of faith seems to have only one direction and depends exclusively on the speaker’s will. Pavlović, in turn, plays an ironic game with Christian texts of culture, especially in his collection Svetli i tamni praznici (1971), in which the sacred constantly mixes with the profane. Rebellious and blasphemous approach of the lyrical speaker is not a mere negation of the traditional idea of holiness. Most of all, it can be understood as an attempt to overcome the classical oppositions in thinking about the world and humanity, among which there is a dichotomy between the immanent and the transcendent. Both poets, each in his own way, consider the problem of ‘God’s death’, which Agata Bielik-Robson, in reference to Hegel, thinks of as ‘constant reflexion on God who has left, and the disappearance of simple, direct transcendence’ (Bielik-Robson 2013: 8). This paper offers a proposal of a comparative study concerning the poems of Lalić and Pavlović in a postsecular approach, in which modern consciousness grapples with the experience of transcendence.




Prof. dr hab. Ivo Pospíšil
(Masaryk University, Czech Republic)

The Secular, the Sacred and the Three Stages of Postsecular/Post-Postsecular in Russian Literature: Past and Present

The specific situation of Slavic literatures in general, connected with the history of Slavic nations in the West, South, and the East, led to a specific attitude towards the problems of the sacred and the secular in literature. Literature as such had a sacral character not only in the Middle Ages, but also much later, practically up to the 17th or even the 18th centuries. Some Slavic countries hardly experienced the Renaissance, Humanism, Mannerism and the Reformation, or did not experience them at all. In this situation, the advent of the synthetic Baroque style and poetics, which dominated almost everywhere in Europe, from the East to the West, certainly strengthened the sacral elements in arts and literature. If we consider the Reformation as a really complex, holistic process – not just a religious movement but a major drive with a prolonged impact on politics, economics, culture, arts and literature – it was not present everywhere in Europe. Thus, the evolution of arts and literature in, for example, the Eastern part of the continent resembles a dot-and-dash line, a torn net of currents, some of them absent or present only as a tiny spring or a streamlet of meanings. The specific development of Slavic literatures led me to the conception of the socalled pre-post effect or paradox. It concerns more the Eastern Slavs, among them more Russians than Ukrainians or Belarusians, and Southern Slavs, at least Bulgarians, Macedonians and Serbs rather than Western Slavs. The problem consists in the imperfect imitation of Western models. The history of the so-called Western Europe was a complicated process and there is hardly any parallel which might correspond to the contemporary understanding of the East and the West. The Reformation is sometimes understood as a phenomenon leading to the disintegration of existing universal structures of European thought. In fact, quite on the contrary, it led to a new attempt to restore the former unity of thought, forming one cultural and artistic whole, but on quite a different level, connected with the process of gradual interiorisation and even desacralisation of religion and the beginnings of secularisation processes. Thus, the absence of the Reformation as a complicated societywide process, which affected not only religion, resulted in the unfinished process of secularisation in Russian literature. Russian literature as such went through practically three stages of postsacral development connected with the fact that the process of secularisation in Russia was not realised in its complexity, which can be demonstrated – for example – in the case of the Russian novel. Permanent postsecular returns to the sacral kernel of arts and literature could be manifested by the development of Romanticism, at least one of its currents, in theory (Leo Tolstoy), in Russian Silver Age (modernism) and, again, towards the end of the 20th century, paradoxically even before the perestroika and glasnost, as if opposing the changes of poetics connected with secularised, leftist neo-avantgarde tendencies. Alhough the state was officially secularised, the language – Old Church Slavonic – as a signal of sacral literature with the elements of East-Slavonic dialects (‘general East-Slavonic’) prolonged its existence up to modern and postmodern times, both in Russian everyday communication and in the belles lettres (Yuri Bondarev, born 1924, and his novel The Bermuda Triangle, 1999, Evgeny Vodolazkin, born 1964, and his novel Laurus).




Dr Nemanja Radulović
(Department of Serbian and South Slavic Literatures, Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade, Serbia)

The Reception of the Book of Veles and the Disenchanted World

While accelerated modernity in Slavic cultures has been marked by secularisation, the last thirty years testify to the opposite process. Desecularisation is apparent not only in the revival of traditional religions, but also in many forms of esotericism. This phenomenon is not limited to small circles of practitioners, but influences different streams: from high to popular culture and contemporary folklore. Christopher Partridge has termed this process occulture and his attitude to occultism as part of the pool of common knowledge can serve as a methodological tool in this paper. This multifaceted process will be illustrated by the recent reception of the Book of Veles, a text which belongs to the long line of folkloristic mystifications in Slavic literatures. However, with the development of Slavic Neopaganism since the 1980s it has been turned into a sacred book, shaping the mythological worldview of rodnoverje communities (for example, the threefold division of cosmos into the so-called Jav, Nav and Prav realms is derived from the Book). Some texts based on the Book are a bricolage of folklore, fiction and popular esotericism. The paper analyses how the reception of the Book of Veles can be understood within the dynamics of secularisation and desecularisation, and how this reception at first glance misreads the book’s core content. My thesis is that the Book’s reception is characterised by a deep ambiguity of the sacred and secular which stems from modernity itself, especially when it comes to history as a determinant of identity. Programmatic antimodernity of neopagan groups turns toward the resacralisation of the disenchanted world (from Slavic mythology ‘reconstructed’ as New Age), but while doing so they still act within the concepts of modernity and, above all, national identity.




Dr hab. Danuta Sosnowska
(Institute of Western and Southern Slavic Studies, University of Warsaw)

Postsecular versus Postmodern Interpretation? The Religious Issue in Czech Literature after 1989

In my presentation I am focusing on the confrontation of a postmodern reading of Czech literature after 1989 with the postsecular interpretation. After the turning point of 1989 the subject of religiosity was undertaken in Czech literature also by the younger generation of writers born about 1960. Their presence on the literary scene was noticed at the time and described as a distinctive phenomenon. They dealt with religious ideas in a way that neglected Catholic dogmas and religious tradition as well as Church instructions. Another typical characteristic of their literary strategies was melting and mixing together religious threads deriving from foreign cultures and cults, including non-European ones. These tendencies, as well as characteristic literary forms preferred by the writers, such as pastiche, parody and irony, justified a postmodern interpretation of the phenomenon. Still popular, it could also be related to widespread millenarian moods of the 1990s. Consequently, this literary phenomenon would be only a reaction to a temporary social emotion, which was also reflected in the popularity the theme of The Second Coming (Parousia) so eagerly taken up by the young Czech writers. My paper aims to present a different interpretation of this phenomenon, one using the framework of postsecular thought. In this approach, nondoctrinal, non-traditional description of religious experience which can be found in the Czech literature of the 1990s turns out to involve a peculiar contact with the transcendental sphere or a struggle for such contact, or an expression of metaphysical yearnings. This explanation is far from treating personal experience of faith (even if it is an expression of a radical religious rebellion against God or seems to be a mockery) as a form of belief or a contradiction of faith. On the other hand, one can ask how such religious expression belongs to the modern experience of faith. It is not a simple play with religion as postmodern interpretation says, but it is another form experiencing religion, although it is sometimes difficult to understand. I will analyse three aspects of the subject: (1) How to treat the strategies of mockery, for example irony and parody? Is it only a joke or something more? (2) How to interpret the construction of characters, especially the ones who are comic book-style or seem to be fantasy film figures? (3) How does undertaking the transcendental theme in Czech literature become a criticism of Czech culture with its materialism and mundane character?




Dr hab. Grażyna Szwat-Gyłybow, prof. IS PAN
(Institute of Slavic Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences)

Weak Thought, Deep Trace: Observations on the Migration of Ideas in the Balkans

Research on the migration of ideas about modernisation in the Slavic Balkans* provided material that can become a good point of departure for further studies, also from the perspective of postsecular thought. My presentation offers a reflection on the potential use of the concept of ‘weak ontology’ proposed by the Romanian philosopher Constantin Noica for the interpretation of peculiarities of adaptation of selected ideas (cultural universals) in the Bulgarian context.
* The research was conducted under a grant from the National Science Centre, Poland (NCN 2014/13/B/HS2/01057).