Study of Religions - Hidden Galleries project

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The Hidden Galleries project concerns the role of religious minorities in the transformation of Central and Eastern Europe societies in the 20th century seen through the prism of the secret police archives in the region. The project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme No. 677355

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Now showing 1 - 5 of 28
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    Hidden Galleries, Silenced Communities: homegrown religious communities and the secret police in 20th century Romania
    (University College Cork, 2022-08-30) Nagy, Iuliana; Kapalo, James; H2020 European Research Council
    This thesis explores the methods used by the Romanian secret police against two homegrown Romanian religious communities, the Old Calendarists and the Tudorists, and the manner in which they survived persecution by engaging in conscious acts of resistance. The creation of alternative narratives by these religious communities, narratives in which they critiqued and contradicted the established order, as well as the production of various objects and materials, such as icons, photographs, handwritten prayer or songbooks, letters and postcards ensured that they became a target for the authoritarian and totalitarian regimes in Romania, which continuously tried to confiscate and destroy these materials. Meant to incriminate, these materials now testify of the wrongdoings of the regime, be it fascist or communist, and constitute a valuable resource to understand the intrusive character of these regimes. They also illustrate the creative ways in which these religious communities responded to authoritarian rule and managed to survive persecution, thus ensuring their survival and continuity as religious communities. Exploring important notions and concepts, such as archive, material religion, memory, sect, and secret police, this thesis advances a new approach to the archives of the secret police, focusing on its material religious contents rather than approaching it as a deposit of textual evidence. In order to realise this perspectival shift on the holdings of the secret police archives, archival research was combined with fieldwork and interviews with the members of the Old Calendarist and the Tudorist communities in order to gain a more holistic understanding of the significance of the materials that they produced, the context in which they were made, as well as to capture their responses to re-encountering with the visual and literary materials that their communities had created and that are now stored in the secret police archives. My archival work on Tudorists and the Old Calendarists, which forms the empirical basis for this thesis, demonstrates that with regards to the study of religions the archives of the former Romanian secret police have not been used to their full potential. The measures employed by the secret police involved the confiscation of objects and materials, such as brochures, diaries, icons, letters, postcards, songbooks from these religious minorities, as well as the production of images, photo-collages and bricolages of those considered enemies of the state. These items carry the potential to reveal much more about the communities than a written document could ever do. By looking at the experiences of the Old Calendarists and the Tudorists from a different perspective, the thesis will show how constraints and struggles can sometimes be an impulse for boundless creativity. The principal aims of the thesis are: firstly, to draw closer attention to these homegrown religious communities on which little research has been conducted. Secondly, I am to demonstrate the potential of the Romanian secret police archives to generate different types of stories about the repression of religion. By prioritising the archive’s material content, the thesis will focus less on the written file, the result of the work of agents and informers on which much of the work of researchers has focused in the quest for uncovering historical truths, instead foregrounding both the visual and material patrimony of these groups and the voices of those who have not yet been heard. This inevitably opens up the discussion about how Romanian history is written, who is included, who is left out, and why. Moreover, the thesis focuses on the gender relations that existed within the Old Calendarist community during the interwar period, highlighting the crucial role that women played in times of crisis by spreading and preserving the Old Calendarist ideas. Last but not least, the thesis analyses the complex relationship between history, memory and experience and brings forward the important role of story-telling and collective memory in the shaping and maintaining of a group identity for descendent communities. The research for this thesis, entitled ‘Hidden Galleries, Silenced Communities: Homegrown Religious Communities and the Secret Police in 20th Century Romania’ was conducted as part of the ERC research project, entitled ‘Hidden Galleries –Creative Agency and Religious Minorities: ‘hidden galleries’ in the secret police archives in 20th Century Central and Eastern Europe’ (project no. 677355).
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    Introduction: Visual Ethics after Communism
    (National Museum of the Romanian Peasant, Bucharest, 2021-11) Crowley, David; Nicolescu, Gabriela; Kapalό, James A.; European Research Council
    This special issue problematizes the often-uncritical use of images in publications and displays about communism. It poses a number of questions for anthropologists, historians, museologists and others: when does an image or a museum display present itself as problematic and for whom? Under what circumstances is it ethically justifiable to exhibit or publish such images or, conversely, to put images aside, leaving them undisplayed? When do arguments based on “the public good” outweigh the right to personal privacy, individual integrity and cultural patrimony of source communities?
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    "Liminal" orthodoxies on the margins of empire: Twentieth-century "home-grown" religious movements in the Republic of Moldova
    (Taylor & Francis, 2017-01-20) Kapalό, James A.; European Research Council; Horizon 2020; Royal Irish Academy
    In the 20th century, the Russian Orthodox Church, the Romanian Orthodox Church, and the Soviet atheist state each pursued missions that attempted to transform Moldovans into loyal and trustworthy subjects and to integrate them into new state structures. This article explores the "liminal" character of Moldovan identities forged on the Russian and Romanian borderlands through the prism of Moldova's "home-grown" religious movements. Grassroots movements led by charismatic and "trickster" religious figures "played" with dichotomies of the hidden and the revealed, innovation and tradition, and human and divine, succeeding in transforming the subject positions of whole segments of Moldovan peasant society. The resulting forms of "liminal" Orthodoxy have proved enduring, perpetually critiquing and transgressing canonical norms from the margins and subverting the discourses and narratives that seek to "harmonize" identities and to consolidate nation, state, and church in the Republic of Moldova.
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    Redeeming memory: Neo-Protestant churches and the secret police archives in Romania
    (Routledge, 2021-08-13) Cindrea, Iuliana; Kapaló, James A.; Povedák, Kinga; European Research Council; Horizon 2020
    This article examines the manner in which members of the neo-Protestant churches dealt with the past of their own communities, the importance they ascribed to the archives of the former secret police and how they utilized state security files in order to write histories of their communities during the communist regime. While some have used the archives as a means to highlight the sufferings and persecutions that the neo-Protestant communities endured in an effort to fill the pages of history left blank, others have seen it as the sole repository of the truth about the past and took the responsibility upon themselves of exposing the names of all those community members who collaborated with the Securitate. Unlike the Orthodox Church, which has been accused of trying to keep under lock and key documents that could bring to light controversial issues, the neo-Protestant communities rushed into the archives in a quest for a true history of their own past. The article analyses some of the most important and controversial books that were written by members of various neo-Protestant churches, in which the subject of collaboration was more or less thoroughly addressed. Taken out of context, some of these works seemed like vengeful attempts to purify the neo-Protestant communities of their weakest individuals. For some members it was difficult to comprehend that such an endeavour could come from within the communities themselves, while for others these attempts were nothing more than an attack against the neo-Protestant churches. The nature of the secret police archives, its uses and abuses, as well as measures of transitional justice are other subjects that are dealt with in the present article.
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    If sex were a factor… The Securitate Archives and issues of morality in documents related to religious life
    (Routledge, 2021-08-13) Șincan, Anca; Kapaló, James A.; Povedák, Kinga; European Research Council; Horizon 2020
    The issue of morality is a vector in the analysis of the archival documents related to religion in communism. When the veil of privacy is lifted and the secret is no more, a rich picture unfolds for the researcher. Blackened names, the minimal protection offered to the actors that surface in surveillance files will do little in affording the subject of such files the privacy his/her actions were thought to have been acted in. For clergy and church members alike the moral stick they are measured against is higher than for the rest. It was self-imposed in many cases. Documents of the CNSAS archives on religion abound with stories about sexuality in many forms. Judges of the morality of the life of “God’s men” the Securitate officers will highlight the failures of the clergy based on guidelines that pertain to the church rather than the Securitate. This article is an overview of the way in which morality permeated the Securitate documents on religious life in communist Romania. How it was used and the reasons behind it. It answers questions related to the disappearance of the morality standard in other archives that dealt specifically with religion in communism.