April 24, 2020 - Symposium

Religion, State, and Nationalism: Problems and Possibilities Symposium

UPDATE: The “Religion, State, and Nationalism” symposium scheduled for April 24 has been postponed. We will announce a new date for the symposium in the coming months.

Today’s world is witnessing to new configurations of alliances and conflicts between religious institutions and the state. Religion is a key player in rewriting nationalist narratives that underpin state policies. In the United States, evangelical Christians influence state policies and contribute to nationalist agendas. The Orthodox Church is a leader in the resurgence of nationalism in post-Soviet Russia and the rehabilitation of the mythological past of “Holy Russia” that contributes to the state’s ideological agenda. Analysts express concern that religion will fuel the flames of nationalist isolationism and increase the possibilities for international incidents of polarization, violence, and war. Critics call for the complete separation of religious organizations from the state. In some places of the world, cooperation between religious institutions and the state can become a positive force at the local and international levels. Religious leaders can consult the state and contribute to the formation of national identity that is inclusive and does not pose a threat to international peace. 

Valparaiso University invites you to a special symposium, “Religion, State, and Nationalism: Problems and Possibilities,” on April 24, 2020. The symposium will take place in three sessions, with the first focusing on problems, the second on possibilities, and the third on integrating issues of faith, nationalism, and the problems of historical memory into undergraduate curricula. 

9:50 a.m. Welcome, Prayer, Opening Remarks
Nicholas Denysenko, Jochum Professor and Chair – Welcome

10:00 -11:30 a.m. Panel 1: The problem of nationalism in relations between the state and religious organizations
Dr. Atalia Omer, Keough School of Global Affairs, University of Notre Dame – “Religious Diasporas and their Nationalisms”
Dr. Antoine Arjakovsky, Collège de Bernardins – “Holy Russia as a Source for Nationalist Ideology”
Dr. Scott Hibbard, DePaul University, – “Religion, Politics and Christian Nationalism in Trump’s America”

11:30 a.m. Lunch Break (on your own)

1:00 p.m. Panel 2: National Identity and the Common Good
Rev. Dr. Dorian Llywelyn, S.J., Santa Clara University: “The Theology of National Identity”
Rev. Dr. Robert Saler, Christian Theological Seminary: “Bonhoeffer’s Wars and Ours: Nationalism and the Mirror of Theological Heroism”
Dr. Slava Jakelic, Valparaiso University: “Reconceiving the Religion-Nationalism Links”

3 p.m.: Coffee Break

3:30 p.m. Panel 3: Teaching faith and nationalism in undergraduate courses
Tal Howard, moderator
Sam Graber, Valparaiso University
Timothy Larsen, Wheaton College
Phillip Gollner, Goshen College

4:45 p.m.: Closing Remarks and Adjournment: Nicholas Denysenko 

5:00 p.m. Reception

Atalia Omer

Atalia Omer is Associate Professor of Religion, Conflict, and Peace Studies, and a core faculty member of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. She earned her Ph.D. (November 2008) from the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard University. Omer has published articles in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, the Journal of Religious Ethics; Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal; the Journal of Political Theology, the Study of Nationalism and Ethnicity, the International Journal of Peace Studies, Critical Sociology, and Method & Theory in the Study of Religion. She is the author of  When Peace is Not Enough: How the Israeli Peace Camp Thinks about Religion, Nationalism, and Justice,  Days of Awe: Reimagining Jewishness in Solidarity with Palestinians, with the University of Chicago Press.


Antoine Arjakovsky

Antoine Arjakovsky holds a Doctorate in History from the Ecole des hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris). He is a French citizen with Slavic roots (Russian, Belarussian and Ukrainian). He worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during 13 years (1989-2002) as Cultural attaché in the French Embassy in Moscow and in Kyiv. He was also the Director of the French university of Moscow and the Deputy Director of the French Institute in Kyiv. He published a dozen of books dedicated to the history of Russia and Ukraine and to the history of the Christian orthodox thought. He is the current Research Director at the Collège des Bernardins (Paris) and the Founding Director of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies at the Ukrainian Catholic University (Lviv, Ukraine).Arjakovsky’s books include The Way: Religious Thinkers of the Russian Emigration in Paris and Their Journal (University of Notre Dame Press), and What is Orthodoxy? (Angelico Press).


Scott Hibbard

Scott Hibbard is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at DePaul University in Chicago, IL.  He has taught at DePaul since 2005, where he offers courses on International Relations, Middle East Politics, and Religion and Politics (among other topics).  He has also taught at the American University in Cairo (2009-2010) and at Swarthmore College (2005).  Hibbard received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University (2005), and holds advanced degrees from the London School of Economics and Political Science (MSc Political Theory, 1989), and Georgetown University (MA Liberal Studies, 1988). Hibbard previously worked in the U.S. Government, serving as a Program Officer at the United States Institute of Peace (1992 to 1997) and as a legislative staff member in the United States Congress (1985-1992).  Hibbard is the author of Religious Politics and Secular States: Egypt, India and the United States (Johns Hopkins University Press, September 2010), and co-author (with David Little) of Islamic Activism and U.S. Foreign Policy (Washington, DC: U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 1997).  He is also a co-editor (with Aminah McCloud and Laith Saud) of An Introduction to Islam in the 21st Century (Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, March 2013).


Slavica  Jakelić 

Slavica  Jakelić is associate professor of humanities and social thought at Christ College, the honors college of Valparaiso University. Her scholarly interests and publications center on religion and collective identity, religious and secular humanisms, theories of religion and secularism, theories of modernity, nationalism and populism, interreligious dialogue, and conflict resolution. Before joining Christ College, Jakelić has worked at or been a fellow of a number of interdisciplinary institutes in Europe and the U.S.—the Erasmus Institute for the Culture of Democracy in Croatia, the Institute for the Study of Economic Culture at Boston University, the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen in Vienna, Austria, the Erasmus Institute at the University of Notre Dame, the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago, the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study, and the Kroc Institute at the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School. She is a Senior Fellow of the national project “Religion&Its Publics,” placed at the University of Virginia, where she was a faculty member and co-director at the UVA’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture for several years. Jakelić is a co-editor of two volumes, The Future of the Study of Religion and Crossing Boundaries: From Syria to Slovakia, a co-editor of The Hedgehog Review’s issue “After Secularization,” and the author of Collectivistic Religions: Religion, Choice, and Identity in Late Modernity. She is currently working on two books, Chastening Religious and Secular Humanisms: Identity, Solidarity, and the Practice of Pluralism, and Ethical Nationalisms.


Rev. Dorian Llywelyn, S.J.

Rev. Dorian Llywelyn, S.J. has served as Executive Director of the Ignatian Center at Santa Clara University since August 2016. Prior to coming to Santa Clara, Fr. Llywelyn worked at Heythrop College at the University of London and Loyola Marymount University. He has written several books and scholarly articles on the intersection of faith and culture. Fr. Llywelyn’s research interests focus on the place of land and national identity in the spirituality of peoples, and the intersection of devotion to the Virgin Mary with politics and culture. Fr. Llywelyn received a Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Wales; a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology; a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca in Spain; and a B.A. in English from the University of Cambridge.


Rev. Robert Saler

Rev. Robert Saler came to Christian Theological Seminary in the fall of 2012. He is Research Professor of Religion and Culture and Executive Director of the Center for Pastoral Excellence and the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program. Saler received his BA summa cum laude from Valparaiso University, an MA in theology from the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, and the M.Div., Th.M. and Ph.D. (with distinction) from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Saler works at the intersection of Christian intellectual history and social theory, with a goal of making the resources of Christian tradition(s) available to leaders in church and society today. His first book, Between Magisterium and Marketplace, explored the ways in which ecclesiology and literary theory provide insights into how theologians understand themselves as authors. His second book, Theologia Crucis, is a field guide to the multifaceted use of the theology of the cross from Luther to liberation theologies.


Samuel Graber

Samuel Graber is Associate Professor of Humanities and Literature in Christ College at Valparaiso University. Graber’s teaching and research interests include nineteenth-century literature and culture, the American Civil War, transatlantic studies, memory studies, and religion. He has published articles and reviews in American Nineteenth Century History, the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, Christianity and Literature, Civil War Book Review, Common-Place, and the Journal of Southern History, as well as in the forthcoming Literary Cultures of the American Civil War. He teaches “Interpretation: Self, Culture, Society,” “Word & Image,” “American Identity,” “American War Literature,” “African American Literature,” “Literatures of Freedom,” “Film and Literature,” and also in the Christ College First-Year Program.


Timothy Larsen

Timothy Larsen is McManis Professor of Christian Thought at Wheaton College, an Honorary Fellow, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh, and an Honorary Research Fellow, School of Theology, Religious Studies and Islamic Studies, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.  He has been a Visiting Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, and All Souls College, Oxford, and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute.  He is the author or editor of twenty books including Crisis of Doubt: Honest Faith in Nineteenth-Century England, A People of One Book: The Bible and the Victorians, The Slain God: Anthropologists and the Christian Faith, and John Stuart Mill: A Secular Life (all with Oxford University Press).


Philipp Gollner

Philipp Gollner is Associate Professor of U.S. History and chair of the Department of History, Society and Politics at Goshen College, where his teaching and scholarly interests center on ethnicity, religion and race in American history. His current book project, entitled “Good, White Christians” traces the stories of European immigrants to demonstrate how “white religion” in America was never simply Anglo-Saxon, but a fundamentally spiritual construct comprised of beliefs in world-changing activism, limitless human potential, and a post-racial, post-ethnic society. Most recently, he has also been working on the concepts of empathy, disgust and embodied learning in the classroom as an Emerging Scholars fellow at the University of Virgina’s Center for the Study of Religion, as well as on a critique of activism in the relationship between faith and historical scholarship. Gollner is also the book review editor for the Mennonite Quarterly Review. A native of Austria, he was educated at the Universities of Munich, Chicago and Notre Dame (Ph.D.) He is a member of the American Society of Church History and the American Academy of Religion and a board member of the Mennonite Historical Society.

Sponsors:

Lilly Fellows Program
Nicholas Denysenko, Emil and Elfriede Jochum Professor and Chair, Valparaiso University

Questions? Contact Professor Denysenko at Nicholas.denysenko@valpo.edu