The process of democratic transitions after the fall of communism in Eastern and Southeastern Europe enabled churches to comeback into the public sphere and led to the de-secularisation of societies. The Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) became one of the most powerful actors in post-Milošević Serbia in a spiritual/cultural, political and economic sense. The SOC has been considered to be the most credible institution in Serbia by a majority of Serbs. In such a position, the SOC influences the hegemonic narratives of many issues in contemporary Serbia. Due to the conservative nature of Orthodox churches together with specific historical interconnections between Orthodoxy, national identity and political power in the Balkans, the SOC’s stances often clash with the Eurocentric teleological narratives of change and proclaimed “Western” values. This ambivalence became one of the characteristic patterns of the Serbian development after 2000. In the seminar, I will elaborate on the main trends in the SOC’s official narratives pertaining to the selected socio-politically relevant issues and examine whether the SOC’s narratives lead or follow public discussion and, contrarily, to which topics the SOC creates counter/alternative narratives. In this way, I will also assess the relevance of the concept of the triad of church-nation-state, highly popular in SOC’s discourse since the late 1980s, and the dynamics between the particular actors of the triad.
Karin Hofmeisterová is a PhD candidate and teaching assistant at the Institute of International Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague. She graduated from Balkan, Euroasian and Central European Studies, also studied at University College London and University of Belgrade. In her research she is focusing mainly on religion in Southeast Europe with a special emphasis on the Serbian Orthodox Church and its role in contemporary Serbia. In 2015 she succeeded in Charles University Grant Agency’s competition and gained funding for the research project Orthodox Churches on the Threshold of the 21st Century. The Case of Russia, Serbia and Greece. She participates in various other research projects as for example PRIMUS research programme of the Charles University Beyond Hegemonic Narratives and Myths. Troubled Pasts in the History and Memory of East-Central & South-East Europe or international project with partner universities HU Berlin and Universität Wien CENTRAL Post-Conflict Constellations: Institutionalization of Knowledge and Memory in Central and Southeastern Europe. She takes part at international conferences and also publishes her research in Czech, Greek, German and English. In 2017, her article “The Concept of Symphony Between the Church and State in the Serbian Orthodox Milieu and Its Influence on the Serbian Orthodox Church’s Attitude to the Crisis in Yugoslavia” was published in Czech peer-reviewed journal Slovanský přehled. She also published the article “The Picture of Jews in Serbian Orthodox Church’s Narrative of the Holocaust” in peer-reviewed collective book from the conference Populizam, izbeglička kriza, religija i mediji. Recently she obtained the first price for her chapters in the book Minderheiten im sozialistischen Jugoslawien. Brüderlichkeit und Eigenheit in the contest for the best scientific work in the area of integrated social science announced by the Endowment fund of Anna and Jaroslav Krejčí.