Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas:  jgo.e-reviews 7 (2017), 3 Rezensionen online / Im Auftrag des Leibniz-Instituts für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung in Regensburg herausgegeben von Martin Schulze Wessel und Dietmar Neutatz

Verfasst von: Jelena Đureinović


Annina Cavelti Kee: Kultureller Nationalismus und Religion. Nationsbildung am Fallbeispiel Irland mit Vergleichen zu Preußisch-Polen. Frankfurt a.M. [usw.]: Lang, 2014. XVIII, 290 S., 2 Abb. = Menschen und Strukturen. Historisch-sozialwissenschaftliche Studien, 22. ISBN: 978-3-631-64736-3.

Religion und Nation. Tschechen, Deutsche und Slowaken im 20. Jahrhundert. Hrsg. von Kristina Kaiserová / Eduard Nižňanský / Martin Schulze Wessel. Essen: Klartext, 2015. 192 S. = Veröffentlichungen zur Kultur und Geschichte im östlichen Europa, 46. ISBN: 978-3-8375-1286-1.

Strategies of Symbolic Nation-Building in South Eastern Europe. Edited by Pål Kolstø. Farnham, Surrey, Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2014. 272 S., 42 Abb. = Southeast European Studies. ISBN: 978-1-4724-1916-3.

The relation between religion and nationalism has been studied extensively. Three recent books, one monograph and two collections of articles, show that this correlation remains a relevant topic of study that can still be approached from innovative perspectives. They have a comparative perspective and cover a wide geographical scope. Though focusing on different time periods, from the 19th century to the present day, what they have in common is the theme of nationalism and nation-building and their entanglement with religion.

The edited volume Religion und Nation: Tschechen, Deutsche und Slowaken im 20. Jahrhundert by Kristina Kaiserová, Eduard Nižňanský, and Martin Schulze Wessel comprises a selection of eight case studies written by experts in East-Central European history. This is another example of regional scholarly cooperation, included into the book series published by the German-Czech and German-Slovak Historians Commission. The introduction by Martin Schulze Wessel sets the tone, arguing that the mobilizing potential of religion and nationalism as well as the ecclesiastical and religious aspects of the history of nationalism can best be grasped by approaching them from a social-historical perspective. The social influences connected with the development of the national movements in the 19th and 20th century are central to the questions of the volume.

The introduction raises the very important issue of the relation between religion and nationalism as cultural systems, an issue very often addressed in the existing literature. Schulze Wessel puts forward the question whether religion is contrary to nationalism or an interpretative system which nationalism builds on and uses for its purposes. In other words, are religion and nationalism antagonisms or have they a symbiotic relation? According to Schulze Wessel, both understandings are possible. In the first case, religion and nationalism can be perceived as competing forces, where the multi-confessionalism of East-Central Europe represents an especially interesting example. A specialty of this region, according to the author, was that national integration had to be positioned against other groups which shared the same confession. This leads to examples of religious actors supporting the overcoming of the confessional standpoints to promote national unification in times of national mobilization. In the second case, religion and nationalism can have a symbiotic relation, meaning that religion can be taken as an interpretative system which can be translated into national categories, as it was done by religious actors throughout the 19th and 20th century. The inclusion of religious narratives and traditions into national master-narratives served to provide a nation with deeper significance and recognition among other European nations, to elevate a nation and to separate it from the others.

Why limiting the scope to Germans, Czechs, and Slovaks specifically in the study of the history of religion and nationalism? The volumes main argument is that this region is distinct from the other regions in Europe, such as South-Eastern Europe or Poland. In East-Central Europe, religious differences do not reflect boundaries among ethnic majorities and minorities and the nations are not confessionally uniform. The religions compete in the interpretation of the nation and confessions are interpreted as positive or negative for national traditions. Because of that, there are conflicts which do not exist in other regions, is argued in the volume. Namely, overcoming of the confessional stance of the members of a nation which is confessionally divided is promoted by nationalists for national integration.

Annina Cavelti Kees monograph Kultureller Nationalismus und Religion explores the role of cultural nationalists and their relation to the Catholic Church in the process of nation-building in Ireland, where Prussian Poland provides a comparative perspective. Actually going beyond comparison by using the method of histoire croisée, the study focuses on the entanglement of three factors: the cultural nationalists, the Catholic Church, and the Irish and Polish people respectively. The introductory chapters provide a very detailed theoretical, conceptual, and methodological framework, introducing cultural nationalism as the main concept in the study. Drawing from a wide scope of existing literature, the author offers a definition of cultural nationalism as being based on the cultural past, the origin of the people, their culture of remembrance, and their values, needs, and traditions. As such, cultural nationalism encompasses reflection of the everyday life and entails both everyday aspects of living together as well as intellectual perspective such as literature, art, music, and sports. She argues that cultural nationalism can turn into a mass movement and had a great influence and acceptance among the population of Ireland and Poland.

The role of religion in the consolidation of national identity in the late 19th century represents an important aspect of the Cavelti Kees study. Religion is understood broadly in the book, incorporating three appearances of it – personal, institutional, and cultural. In this way, religion represents the personal relation of the individual members of a society to it, the church as an institution, as well as religion as a part of culture and history. The author argues that religion played an essential role in the everyday life of Ireland in the 19th century, where the church had large influence on not only private and but also the public life. Furthermore, all three aspects of religion were instrumentalized by cultural nationalists in order to strengthen their striving for national independence. As the success of cultural nationalism depends on its cooperation with the established social organizations and institutions which provide it with legitimacy, it was the support of the Catholic Church for movements such as GAA and Gaelic League in Ireland which helped the idea of an independent nation become closer to and be accepted by the majority of the population. The comparison with Prussian Poland showes that Ireland was no exceptional case in Europe and that the main arguments of the study can be translated and applied to other countries as well.

Unlike the other two publications under review, the volume Strategies of Symbolic Nation-building in South Eastern Europe edited by Pål Kolstø focuses not specifically on religion, but more broadly on the role of symbols in the process of nation-building. In contrast to the above-mentioned works, it is oriented towards contemporary developments in the post-socialist countries. The volume takes Albania and former Yugoslavia with an exception of Slovenia for its case studies and each contribution to the volume covers one of the countries. The basis for this large-scale comparative research project represent 1500 surveys done in each state. Avoiding the common top-down approach to nation-building, this edited volume seeks to measure popular attitudes towards the state and its symbols and the populations loyalty towards the nation-building programme. In other words, the volume is concerned with the results and effectiveness of the nation-building processes among the regions population.

In his introduction to the volume, Kolstø offers a detailed theoretical framework, separating state- and nation-building and defining nation-building as a strategy of identity consolidation within a state. According to him, the post-communist countries originating from the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia belong to a third wave of nation-building, the first two being the establishment of the old nation-states of Western Europe and the founding of new states as a result of the decolonization of the 1960s. He claims that the post-communist wave of nation-building can be distinguished from the previous ones by not being tied to modernization and democratization, and running over much shorter time spans. This results in direct and deliberate methods of nation-building becoming more prominent and intense.

The role of religion represents one of the four parameters of the analysis throughout the volume, the other three being ethnic culture, historical imagination, and geographical imagination. The question posed is how much religious symbols and identities are regimented by state authorities for political purposes, examining the role of the religion in identity formation such as the Catholic Church in Croatia, Christian Orthodoxy in Serbia, or various faiths in Albania. The concluding chapter summarizes the results. The main argument regarding religion and nation-building is that religion plays an important role only if it is connected to ethnicity and the religious composition of the state represents one of the preconditions for nation-building. Although the starting assumption might be that religious diversity can always be counted as a significant factor in predicting loyalty of the population, as the chapters on Macedonia and Bosnia in the volume showed, in some cases it does not correlate at all, like in Albania and Montenegro. Thus, the concluding chapter claims that religion is not an independent factor: when it correlates strongly with loyalty it is because religious faith is intimately linked to ethnicity. In other words, when it comes to politics and attitudes towards nation-building, religion is a surrogate to ethnicity and ethnicity is what really matters.

On the whole, these recent publications represent another important contribution to the study of religion and nationalism which generated a considerable research interest in the international scholarship during the previous decades. They also represent a brilliant example of the research possibilities revolving around the overall theme of the role of religion in nation-building processes. Approaching this topic from the perspectives of social history, histoire croisée, or with a bottom-up perspective, the books provide thoughtful insights into the issue as well as into the respective regions of Europe in general. They represent a valuable resource for studying the place of religion in the context of nation-building and the different interactions of actors and entanglements which exist.

Jelena Đureinović, Gießen

Zitierweise: Jelena Đureinović über: Annina Cavelti Kee: Kultureller Nationalismus und Religion. Nationsbildung am Fallbeispiel Irland mit Vergleichen zu Preussisch-Polen. Frankfurt a.M. [usw.]: Lang, 2014. XVIII, 290 S., 2 Abb. = Menschen und Strukturen. Historisch-sozialwissenschaftliche Studien, 22. ISBN: 978-3-631-64736-3; Religion und Nation. Tschechen, Deutsche und Slowaken im 20. Jahrhundert. Hrsg. von Kristina Kaiserová, Eduard Nižňanský und Martin Schulze Wessel. Essen: Klartext, 2015. 192 S. = Veröffentlichungen zur Kultur und Geschichte im östlichen Europa, 46. ISBN: 978-3-8375-1286-1; Strategies of Symbolic Nation-Building in South Eastern Europe. Edited by Pål Kolstø. Farnham, Surrey and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2014. 272 S., 42 Abb. = Southeast European Studies. ISBN: 978-1-4724-1916-3, http://www.dokumente.ios-regensburg.de/JGO/erev/Dureinovic_SR_Nationsbildung.html (Datum des Seitenbesuchs)

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