Succesful "Gulag Lecacy" conference in Amsterdam

On 8-9 June the Institute for the Academic Study of Eastern Christianity (INaSEC) organised the international conference “Gulag Legacy: History, Memory and the Sacred in Post-Soviet Russia” at the Hermitage Museum Amsterdam.

07/05/2018 | 12:23 PM

On 8-9 June the Institute for the Academic Study of Eastern Christianity (INaSEC) organised the international conference “Gulag Legacy: History, Memory and the Sacred in Post-Soviet Russia” at the Hermitage Museum Amsterdam. The conference is part of the INaSEC project “Theology after Gulag”.
This interdisciplinary and interreligious project rests on three pillars:

- considering the long-term legacy of the Gulag and Soviet oppressive system and the 'ultimate questions' that a post-traumatic culture and society poses to human civilization as a whole;
- engaging with other contexts coping with a legacy of oppressive regimes and learns from what we call “theologies after”; for example in post-Nazi Germany and post-Apartheid South Africa;
- involving stakeholders from post-Soviet contexts, including scholars and universities, ecclesial institutions, and NGOs.

Considering these pillars, the conference had an exploratory format. Panel papers were read in advance by discussants from other fields of expertise. This setup provided in-depth discussions during the panels and plenary sessions.

180705 GulagConference 287pxThe conference was opened by the rector magnificus professor Vinod Subramaniam (VU). After a programmatic introduction on the project by INaSEC director Dr. Katya Tolstaya keynote speaker emeritus professor Jürgen Moltmann gave an overview of Christian and Jewish Theology after Auschwitz, and proposed directions for future theology that builds on the hope of God. Then seven panels followed over two days with experts from various contexts and disciplines. In her contributions to the panels “Recognition, Responsibility and Accountability” and “Ultimate Questions: Dehumanization” professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela (Stellenbosch University) emphasised how historical trauma becomes transgenerational and how important public awareness and empathy are in confronting a difficult past. Professor Robert Orsi (Northwestern University) in the panel “Postmemory and Sacred History” noted that religious memory and commemoration can go beyond modern epistemology, but at the same time have to draw on other contexts and human experiences. Overall the conference strengthened the substantive dialogue between theology and other relevant disciplines on which the project can build.

For an extensive report and a video recording of the conference see the INaSEC website.