B4: Orthodoxy and Social Peace

Dr. Regina Elsner (WWU/ ZOiS)

Project description

In the post-Soviet countries, the Orthodox churches have gained significant power to shape society; they are very well connected to state structures and have influence on value discourses that determine political and social action. Social conflicts as well as military conflicts in the region show that the role of the Orthodoxy is often ambivalent. While lacking a theological system of peace-ethical concepts, the linkage of transnational church structures with national and sometimes imperial claims defines the way churches behave in conflict. Most recent examples are the war in Ukraine, social protests in Belarus or the territorial conflicts on the Russian-Georgian border.

The project aims to provide a theological analysis of the Orthodox concepts of peace and conflict, which seems indispensable for understanding the influence of the churches on the respective social discourses in the region. This applies both to the inner-church conceptions and practices of peace, reconciliation and conflict in view of the disentanglement of church structures after the end of the Soviet Union, and to the church conceptions of social peace and secular mechanisms of conflict resolution.

Key questions

  • What understandings of social peace carries Orthodoxy?
  • In which ways does Orthodoxy impact social conflicts and conflict-transformation in Eastern Europe?

Methodology and sources

  • Expert interviews
  • Text and discourse analysis
  • Monitoring of selected topical discourses about contested social issues among Orthodox communities in Ukraine, Russia and Georgia

Project team