Envisioning the Underground: Secret Police Archives and the Study of Religions in Central and Eastern Europe
- Date 6 March 2019
- Venue Lancaster University
The study of religions in East and Central Europe has undergone dramatic change since the fall of communism. The opening of the secret police archives in the region took place as part of a broad movement for transitional justice aimed at overcoming the legacy of repressive regimes and working towards justice and reconciliation in society, a process which proved extremely contentious. The archives also presented scholars of religions with important new sources to understand the relationship between anti-religious repressive policies of totalitarian regimes and the practices of religious groups. A paradox, however, lies at the heart of the secret police archives. Despite the recognition that the extensive personal files contained in the archives relied on ideologically constructed and fabricated crimes, false testimonies and made up conversations, in postsocialism these files have become the primary object of interest and research in the search for “truths” about the past.