International Conference

Religion and the Legacy of the Soviet State: A 25-year retrospective

Call for Papers

June 2-4 2017 Tbilisi, Georgia

Organized by

Free University of Tbilisi,School of Law and

International Center for Law and Religion Studies

Introduction to the Conference

The year 2016 marked 25 years since the disbandment of the Soviet Union. This conference seeks to explore the long-term impact of the Soviet state in the sphere of religion. How have Soviet approaches been adapted or rejected in post-USSR countries? How have post-Soviet states responded legally to the restrictive regulation of religion, theappropriation of religious property, and other results of the Soviet regime? Conference languages will be Georgian, English, and Russian.

Aim of the Conference

The aim of the conference and its future publication is to tackle these issues in a multidisciplinary manner. Contributions are not required to be written from a legal perspective. The theme itself is interdisciplinary and allows contributions from scholars from multiple backgrounds, including law, history, religious studies, and political science. A combination of theory and practice is also encouraged.

We specifically call for contributions that address above themes that will be addressed in separate panels during the conference:

1.Restrictive Regulation

The Soviet state subjected religious organizations and believers to restrictive regulation and vague laws that left room for arbitrary enforcement. Religious organizations also faced attempts to reduce or manipulate religious influence in the public sphere in favor of the state. How have these regulations been dismantled or to what extent do they remain? To what extent do mindsets of state control of belief and believers remain? Authors are welcome to address these issues from an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective.

2.Effects of the Soviet State on Majority Religions

To survive, majority religious organizations were forced to adapt and cooperate with the Soviet state. To what extent has this compromised or limited the ability of religious organizations to function independently in the post-Soviet era? Has this had an effect on the trust of the public on religious organizations or on expectations of how religious organizations should interact in public life? How have majority religions approached their relationship with the state?

3. Restrictions and hostile attitudes towards minority religions

This theme will explore the legacy of the Soviet state’s hostility towards minority religions. To what extent do post-Soviet states and citizenry accept pluralism in the religious sphere? To what extent have post-Soviet states encouraged space for all religious traditions in the public sphere? To what extent do Soviet concerns about hostile foreign groups continue to permeate public discourse?

4.Property Restitution

How have post-Soviet countries dealt with state appropriation of religious property? This panel attempts to bring together different approaches to the restitution of property or compensation of religious organizations. Panelists could also clarify how have states have handled situations where property was taken from one church and given to another where it was used for a non-religious charitable purpose, or other still-simmering conflicts. This topic lends itself well to comparative approaches, but individual explorations of particular situations are also welcome.

Submission Deadline:

Please provide a CV and one-page abstract (summary) of your proposed paper to the Conference Lead, Professor Davit Zedelashvili ( by April 10.The conference steering committee will review the papers and let you know if your proposal has been accepted.