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Global Crises and Epistemic Fragmentation

Last year, against the backdrop of intensifying global crises, the annual conference of ReCentGlobe asked whether the framework for social transformations is fundamentally shifting. The beginning of 2023 is again marked by political, ecological, social, and economic crises of global dimensions. We want to focus on the interactions between such crises and epistemic fragmentations, i.e. the fundamental contestation of established worldviews, knowledge and value systems.

Crisis interpretations are built on the foundation of comprehensive worldviews, knowledge and value systems, which we would like to call epistemes. These often claim universal validity although they are usually formulated from particular perspectives. Crisis accumulation, subjectively perceived and then postulated by political actors and the media, together with competing interpretations of the crisis, has often triggered a meta-crisis: an epistemic crisis.

The epistemic crisis of the present is intensified by the fact that the diversification of value systems within limited territories is radically accelerated by a highly differentiated media system, migration, religious and cultural pluralisation, and changing knowledge cultures. In the process, the coexistence of fundamentally different narratives leads to the formation of epistemic milieus with a limited ability to communicate with each other. At the same time, in the digital age, these milieus are increasingly networking globally and thus spreading their narratives, for example in the form of conspiracy theories. Socially binding plausibility structures are eroding, as is the epistemic authority of science, media and politics. Since the hyper-complexity of the modern world, characterised by multiple crises, increases the need for cognitive and normative orientation, those interpretations that offer simple, monocausal explanations for the causes of the crises seem to be particularly successful in order to avoid cognitive dissonance.

This local diversification and global diffusion of competing epistemes, radically accelerated by digital communication, marks a new global dynamic that makes the present seem all the more like a critical juncture. Global crises and epistemic fragmentation accelerate each other.

But even if the range and speed of the global spread of competing epistemes have massively increased, the often-used counter-image of a pre-modern epistemic homogeneity is hardly tenable. Crisis awareness has always and everywhere been part of basic human experience. Religious orders, brotherhoods, and sects, for example, have often emerged both in Europe and in Asia as a reaction to multiple crises. The extent to which one can speak of overarching common knowledge and value systems below basic cosmological assumptions across often rigid social status boundaries would also have to be examined in detail.

Last but not least, from a global perspective, the value order of the "West" with its self-assured claim to universal validity and permeating global expansion proves to be a particular episteme that competes with others.


Thursday, 20.04.2023 


  • Panel 1 | Rassismen und Antirassistische Diskurse in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart: Transnationale Verflechtungen  (in German)
  • Abstract & Participants | Room 716 | Zoom


  • Panel 2 | Spatial Literacy beyond the West: “Reading” and “Writing” World Order after Empire
  • Abstract & Participants | Room 715 | Zoom

– Lunch Break –


  • Panel 3 | Limits to Growth? Resource Crises and Shifting Ideas of Global and Planetary Boundaries
  • Abstract & Participants | Room 716 | Zoom


  • Panel 4 | Social Cohesion in a Global Perspective: Experiences from the African Continent
  • Abstract & Participants | Room 715 | Zoom

– Coffee Break –

17:00 – 18:30

  • General Assembly (Internal)

  • Room 716 | Zoom


18:45 – 20:00

  • Welcoming Remarks by Christoph Kleine (Leipzig) & Introduction by Monika Wohlrab-Sahr (Leipzig)
  • Keynote Lecture by Philip Gorski (New Haven, USA)
    Disenchantment of the World or Fragmentation of the Sacred? An alternative narrative of Western modernity
  • Abstract | Room 716 | Zoom

– Reception – 

Friday, 21.04.2023

09:30 – 11:30

– Lunch Break –

13:00 – 15:00


Rassismen und antirassistische Diskurse in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart: Transnationale Verflechtungen

Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung Reem Alabali-Radovan stellte im Lagebericht „Rassismus in Deutschland“ 2023 fest, dass die globalen Krisen unserer Zeit, die Momente des gesellschaftlichen Umbruchs darstellen, immer auch Zeiten seien, in denen vulnerable Gruppen geschützt werden müssten. Als spezifische Erscheinungsformen des Rassismus in Deutschland nennt sie u.a den Antischwarzen Rassismus, den Antiasiatischen Rassismus und den Antimuslimischen Rassismus. Dies sind keineswegs komplett neue Phänomene, jedoch haben einschneidende Ereignisse wie die Tötung des Afroamerikaners Georges Floyd 2020, die globale Corona-Pandemie und die Fluchtbewegungen aus arabischen und afrikanischen Kriegsgebieten sowie die Anschläge in Halle 2019 und Hanau 2020 dazu beigetragen, das Thema Rassismus zunehmend in den Fokus gesellschaftlicher Debatten in Deutschland zu rücken und staatliche Maßnahmen zur Bekämpfung von Rassismus einzuleiten. Zudem haben sich antirassistische Organisationen wie die Black Lives Matter-Bewegung, die seit 2020 internationales Aufsehen erregte oder Proteste in Social Media wie die digitale Plattform „Ich bin kein Virus“ formiert, die auf neue Episteme hindeuten.

Im Rahmen des Panels werden Kontinuitäten von (Anti-)Rassismus-Diskursen in der Vergangenheit und Gegenwart in Deutschland sowie deren transnationale Verflechtungen untersucht. Dabei wollen wir den Blick auf unterschiedliche Rassismen richten. Gleichzeitig gilt es im Kontext der Jahrestagung des Research Centre Global Dynamics zu fragen, ob die möglichen Kontinuitäten und Diskontinuitäten im Rassismus und im Anti-Rassismus Ausdruck einer oder mehrerer epistemischer Krisen sind. Wie lassen sich die heutigen Ausprägungen von Rassismus im Hinblick auf gesellschaftliche, staatliche, moralische Werteordnungen erklären? Sind diese unter Umständen sehr unterschiedlichen Rassismen (bzw. Ausdrucksformen von Rassismus) miteinander verbunden, beeinflussen sie sich gegenseitig und lernen sie voneinander?


Anika Deike Ohse (Leipzig)


  • Michelle Schweitzer (Leipzig): Rassismuspräventionsprogramme im internationalen Vergleich
  • Jule Wagner/ Mohamed Boukayeo (ZEOK, Leipzig): Prävention von antimuslimischem Rassismus im Bildungsbereich
  • Kimiko Suda (Berlin): Tracking relations. Verflechtungen von Antiasiatischem Rassismus mit anderen Rassismusformen in der Kolonialzeit und Gegenwart
  • Alain Belmond Sonyem (Leipzig): Black Lives Matter transnational


Organisiert von Matthias Middell, Alain Belmond Sonyem & Amira Augustin (alle Leipzig) und der InRa-Studie "Institutionen und Rassismus" am Standort Leipzig.

Spatial Literacy beyond the West: “Reading” and “Writing” World Order after Empire

When after the Second World War Western European empires tumbled, the socialist camp presented itself as alternative to a post-colonial world order along the lines of Western political and economic models, and anti-colonial elites developed powerful imaginaries for a world after empire, the proposals for how to “read” and “know”, how to shape and manage the new world multiplied tremendously. To navigate this proliferation of spatial semantics, which indicated the rise of new spatial formats and new spatial orders, became a crucial challenge for elites and citizens of the newly emerging states.

We address the specific cultural and social capital of actors that enables them to “read” such a complexity as spatial literacy. This is, however, not an uncontested feature of Western-educated elites and goes beyond mere skills of reading maps, discerning territorial formats, locating natural resources, finding places and boundaries or handling atlases, but must be understood more broadly and in the plural as well as the result of collective undertakings, resulting from the efforts and practices of many people to reflect experiences of space-making and of thinking in, with, and through space by identifying, describing, relating, and distributing spatial concepts, by “teaching”, adopting, using, challenging, and transforming competencies in spatial representation and by thinking through space as a way to design and pursue globalization projects.

The panel specifically zooms into the crisis and decay of the imperial global order in the 20th century’s second half and the efforts and practices of actors in the post-colonial South and the socialist East to read and navigate the new and contested plurality of spatial orders. We argue, that by looking at such non-hegemonic positions one can better grasp the capacities that actors utilize to navigate global crises, helping us to better understand their agency.

Organizer/ Chair: Steffi Marung (Leipzig)


  • Steffi Marung (Leipzig): Situating Spatial Literacy – Introduction
  • (online) Ngozi Edeagu (Bayreuth): Writing back to Empire: Newspapers, Non-Elites and Decolonisation in the Global Public Sphere, 1937-1957
  • Ana Moledo (Leipzig): Making Sense of a Decolonising World: The Spatial Literacy of Luso-African Nationalists and its Impact on the Liberation Struggles (1960s–70s)
  • Milan Procyk (Leipzig): Spatial Literacy for Friendship - Chinabound Academics in the Young GDR
  • Comment: Matthias Middell (Leipzig)

Limits to Growth? Resource Crises and Shifting Ideas of Global and Planetary Boundaries

Resource crises have been a recurring challenge to societies throughout history and have often been accompanied by ruptures in conceptions of both global orders and planetary boundaries. With the aim of taking a closer look at this connection, we ask, first, if and how diagnoses of resource scarcity have contributed to major shifts in understandings of global orders on the one hand, and the earth and its finite resources, on the other. We focus on how such crises challenged hitherto stable conceptions of capitalism, led to a critique of Western models of progress, or fostered a turn to new epistemologies of the planetary.

Second, by historizing the social, cultural, and political processes that turned something into a resource, we are interested in understanding the impact of epistemic fragmentations themselves on these resourcifications. Have changing understandings of the “limits to growth” not only been the result of resource scarcity, but also catalyzed these diagnoses and fueled new resourcifications, such as new sources of energy and food? The panel aims to take a fresh look at different moments in history when anxieties about resource depletion met with shifts in in the understanding of global capitalist orders and planetary limits.

Chair: Nina Mackert (Leipzig)

  • (online) Fredrik Albritton Jonsson (Chicago)/Carl Wennerlind (New York): Planetary Scarcity and the End of Neoclassical Economics
  • (online) Jean-Baptiste Fressoz (Paris): "We Have to Think the Climate as a Resource." Atomic Malthusians and the Framing of the Climate Problem
  • Julia Nordblad (Uppsala): Nature as Resource or Habitability System? The Struggle over Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, 1986–1997

Comment: Daniela Russ (Leipzig)

Organized by Antje Dietze und Nina Mackert, in cooperation with the “Environment, Climate, Energy” research unit at Centre Marc Bloch Berlin, Leipzig Centre for the Study of France and the Francophonie, Leipzig Lab „Global Health“

Social Cohesion in a Global Perspective: Experiences from the African Continent

Across the globe there are various discourses, practices and experiences around the topic of “social cohesion” (or, by extension, societal, resilience, social fabric, social contract). The academic debate, however, seems to be dominated by a universalistic understanding of the term (and its operationalization) in a tradition of French and German sociology (Tönnies, Durkheim, Weber, Simmel, etc.). The panel invites academics working on social cohesion and reconciliation on the African continent. The panel will discuss how local discourses and cosmologies/philosophies could feed into contemporary global debates and help decentring some of the universalist assumptions around notions of social cohesion.

Chair: Ulf Engel (Leipzig): Decentring ‘social cohesion’? Research experiences in a global perspective

  • Bertrand Baldet (Limassol, Cyprus): Score for Peace research on West Africa (see URL: <https://www.scoreforpeace.org/en/ukraine/about>)
  • Fana Gebresenbet (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia): Debates around national dialogue and transitional justice in Ethiopia’s current peace process

Discussant: Therese Mager (Leipzig)

Organized by Ulf Engel (Leipzig)

Disenchantment of the World or Fragmentation of the Sacred? An alternative narrative of Western modernity

A little over a century ago, in speeches and essays scattered across his sprawling oeuvre, the great German sociologist, Max Weber, advanced an account of Western modernity founded on a conceptual triptych of “disenchantment”, “differentiation” and “rationalization.” Three generations of social theorists, from Karl Jaspers through Peter Berger, to Charles Taylor, drew on these three concepts to develop a theory of modernity qua secularity.

The Neo-Weberian diagnosis and the narrative that supports it have been rendered untenable by revisionist historiography, sociological research and cultural and political developments. The world is not disenchanted; on the contrary, contemporary culture is more furiously magical than ever. Nor is society divided into neatly bounded spheres or systems; on the contrary it is filled with social and cultural fragments and hybrids of all shapes and sizes. Nor has the retreat of organized religion given way to the triumph of scientific rationality.

In his talk, Gorski offers an alternative conceptualization, narrative and diagnosis of Western modernity: the fragmentation of the sacred. Conceptually, it is premised on three distinctions: sacred/profane, transcendent/immanent and monopolization/fragmentation. Historically, it retells the story of Western Christination as a process of monopolization by the Medieval Church followed by waves of fragmentation from the 13th century onwards. Diagnostically, it understands the contemporary situation as one of hyper-pluralism coupled with the return to immanence.

In conclusion, Gorski touches on the existential options and political challenges created by cultural fragmentation.


Biographical Note

Philip S. Gorski (Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley 1996) is a comparative-historical sociologist with strong interests in theory and methods and in modern and early modern Europe. His empirical work focuses on topics such as state-formation, nationalism, revolution, economic development and secularization with particular attention to the interaction of religion and politics. Other current interests include the philosophy and methodology of the social sciences and the nature and role of rationality in social life. Among his recent publications are The Disciplinary Revolution: Calvinism and the Growth of State Power in Early Modern Europe (Chicago, 2003); Max Weber’s Economy and Society: A Critical Companion (Stanford, 2004); and “The Poverty of Deductivism: A Constructive Realist Model of Sociological Explanation,” Sociological Methodology, 2004; American Covenant: A History of Civil Religion from the Puritans to the Present. Princeton 2017; Am Scheideweg. Amerikas Christen und die Demokratie vor und nach Trump. Wien 2020; (with Samuel L. Perry) The Flag and the Cross: White Christian Nationalism and the Threat to American Democracy. Oxford University Press, New York 2022.

Philip Gorski is Co-Director (with Julia Adams) of Yale’s Center for Comparative Research (CCR), and co-runs the Religion and Politics Colloquium at the Yale MacMillan Center.

Epistemes of Nature, Environment, and the Climate Crisis

This multidisciplinary panel explores and discusses epistemes of nature, the environment, and the climate crisis that, consciously or not, influence the current global academic, political, and public discourse. We ask: What cognitive and normative orientation and conflicts (religious/cultural/political/economic) exist when dealing with the climate crisis? Moreover, what aspects and positions are marginalized in the current climate crisis discourse? Consequently, we expand the geographical and cultural focus beyond the “West” and include contemporary and historical global perspectives.

Jonathan Oldfield addresses the development of Soviet climate science (post-1945), focusing on the debates concerning humankind’s influence on climate systems and related Soviet contributions to international initiatives. Moreover, he outlines the influence of Soviet climate science on today’s approaches to the climate crisis resulting from the intellectual legacies of these activities.

Dagmar Schwerk then introduces Bhutan and Tibetan Buddhism into the conversation (18th–21st century). Beyond a Western linear understanding of time as the current epistemic and cognitive default in the climate crisis discourse, she addresses how alternative conceptions of time (Tibetan Buddhist/First Nations’) significantly influence our relationship with the environment and action/inaction in the climate crisis. In particular, she discusses the systematic “culturalization” of Buddhist values as “Gross National Happiness” (GNH) and the relationship with the other-than-human world.

Based on the example of food waste as one of the most pivotal ethical and ecological problems of our time, Anna Sofia Salonen discusses how to overcome anthropocentric notions of human exceptionalism and superiority and to reimage the role of humans more equally as “garburator”—humans conceptualized as “material, embodied, and eventually decomposing beings.”

At the same time, the epistemic fragmentation of the cognitive and normative orientation within the global climate crisis discourse creates complex conflict lines, for example, the problematic binary of the “West”/“rest alienated.” Therefore, Timothy Stacey takes a closer look at the diversity of the Western episteme itself. Based on the example of a Western university department of sustainable development as part of his multi-sited ethnography, he traces diverse conflicting epistemes beyond “Western scientism,” thereby uncovering which possibilities for “epistemic conciliation” might emerge for us in the discourse.

In sum, the panel presents papers from social sciences, religious and cultural studies, anthropology, history, philology, environmental studies, and geography that shed light on aspects and challenges not yet adequately represented in the mostly Anglo-Eurocentric academic, political, and public climate crisis discourses. By offering alternative ways of thinking and also considering the connection between colonialism and the climate crisis and global climate justice issues, these papers elicit a more inclusive—hence, global— discourse about the climate crisis.

Chair: Dagmar Schwerk (Leipzig)
Moderator: Christoph Kleine (Leipzig)
Organized by Johannes Duschka (Leipzig) and the KFG "Multiple Secularities"


  • Jonathan Oldfield (Birmingham, United Kingdom): Soviet climate science and its intellectual legacies
  • Dagmar Schwerk (Leipzig): The “Age of Strife” as Episteme: Buddhist Ethics, Action, and the Climate Crisis
  • Anna Salonen (Kuopio, Finland): Creator, Saviour, Garburator: (Re)imagining the human role in the world through a case of food waste
  • Timothy Stacey (Utrecht, Netherlands): Unsettling assumptions about the “Western” episteme: religious repertoires of the scientific elite



Soviet climate science and its intellectual legacies – Jonathan Oldfield (Birmingham, United Kingdom)
The paper explores the development of Soviet climate science post-1945, with a particular focus on the debates concerning humankind’s influence on climate systems and on Soviet contributions to related international initiatives. It moves on to consider the intellectual legacies of this activity and the shaping influence of Soviet climate science on approaches to the 21st Century climate crisis.

The “Age of Strife” as Episteme: Buddhist Ethics, Action, and the Climate Crisis – Dagmar Schwerk (Leipzig)
In recent academic discourses, our perception of time was identified as an important variable for our action/inaction in the climate crisis. Kyle Powys Whyte, an Indigenous philosopher and environmental justice scholar, has demonstrated how the Western notion of linear time impedes effective climate policies and how, thus far, marginalized indigenous concepts of “cyclic time” and “time as kinship” hold immense potential—emphasizing thereby the importance of overcoming Anglo-Eurocentric perspectives of “telling time” and harmful “crisis epistemologies” (Whyte 2021a, 2021b). In fact, the long-used terminology of “climate change” (since the industrial revolution) inherently presupposes a simplistic linear understanding of time still constituting the current epistemic and cognitive default. 
Consequently, I will address how in the Tibetan Buddhist world, a cyclic concept of time, namely the “age of strife” (Sanskrit: kaliyuga) contributed to a crisis awareness that induced responsible behavior in society in times of crises. In the “age of strife,” wars, natural disasters, and epidemics are said to be the prevailing challenges—with the present time as only one example. By providing cognitive and normative orientation, the didactics of this concept have been pervasively appropriated both in Tibetan Buddhist literature and Tibetan/Bhutanese political and institutional settings. Based on the Bhutanese Legal Code from 1729, I reflect on how the “age of strife” as important episteme of time has been concretely utilized until today in the social and political sphere to enact Buddhist ethical behavior in relation to nature and the environment. 
Bhutan is a unique example of Tibetan Buddhist modernity as it was not colonized but heavily influenced by colonialism. Today, various Buddhist epistemes of cosmology and ethics are institutionalized in Bhutan’s constitutional framework and its Gross National Happiness (GNH) policies, strongly focusing on sustainable development and the protection of the environment (Schwerk 2019). For the diachronic perspective, I will also briefly introduce current critical discourses in Bhutan regarding nature conservation and interspecies relation (Ugyen, Tobias, and Morrison 2021).
In sum, this paper contributes to a new understanding of how non-Western epistemes of time, Tibetan Buddhist cosmology, and (Buddhist) ethics intersect and offer alternative worldviews with more inclusive solutions for the climate crisis. 

Creator, Saviour, Garburator: (Re)imagining the human role in the world through a case of food waste – Anna Salonen (Kuopio, Finland)
The climate crisis calls us to reimagine and reposition ourselves as humans in the wider world. Social scientific research can (and should) be part of that reimagining. My study explores food waste as a case for how this could be done. In rich societies of the global north, the contemporary food system routinely produces more food than can be consumed. Food waste cuts across several social evils: it is reprehensible in terms of persisting poverty and food insecurity, it invalidates the sacrifices of many food animals, and it contributes to anthropogenic climate change. Food waste is for many reasons one of the most pivotal ethical and ecological problems of our time. 
My study explores the roles and responsibilities ordinary people assign for themselves when talking about food waste, and how this imaginary reflects and/or challenges anthropocentric notions of human exceptionalism and superiority. The findings suggest that humans see themselves as both creators of food waste and as saviours of food that is in danger of going to waste. These images uphold the division between humans and the nonhuman world and reproduce the idea of human exceptionalism and superiority in the world. As a way of troubling these anthropocentric notions and re-embedding the human in the analysis in a way that transcends hierarchical subject positions, I detect a third role: that of the garburator. This role takes humans seriously as material, embodied, and eventually decomposing beings. 
Reimagining human role in the world requires not (only) changes in societal discourses and practices, but also a change in the way a researcher looks at the world here and now. Instead of merely turning our analytical gaze from ‘humans’ to ‘nonhumans’ or ‘materials,’ we ought to extend materiality to consider human bodies. Humans are integral material, embodied agents in the process where food can be wasted. However, as embodied humans we are not all one and the same. Some humans bear the ethical weight of embodied responsibility more than others. A more nuanced discussion of human roles and responsibilities with regards to food waste requires considering these intersections.

Unsettling assumptions about the “Western” episteme: religious repertoires of the scientific elite – Timothy Stacey (Utrecht, Netherlands)
With the Western episteme being held responsible for the climate crisis, the last ten years has seen a flourishing of research into alternative epistemes found amongst indigenous groups, activists, and artists. One of the unintended consequences of this turn is to reinforce a West/the rest alienated/integrated binary that makes the scale of cultural change required seem unassailable. 
The purpose of this talk is to challenge this assumption, and, in so doing, find new hope. Employing what I call a religious repertoires approach, I turn the Western gaze back inwards to unravel the complex and often conflicting epistemes found in a single institution indicatively representing the Western episteme broadly and its relationship to the environment in particular: a university department of sustainable development with strong ties to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Drawing on ethnographic insights, I shed light on where the stereotype of Western scientism does and does not apply, where epistemic boundaries are drawn, and where possibilities for epistemic conciliation might emerge. 

Christian Orthodoxy as an Epistemic milieu and a response to the Global Crises

This panel addresses the role of Orthodox Christianity, seen as a specific epistemic milieu, in reaction to multiple global crises. Specifically, we are interested in exploring how Orthodox Churches and their followers responded to the violent conflicts in post-Cold War Europe. From the wars in former Yugoslavia during the 1990s to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Orthodox religion played an essential role in the public portrayal and justification of the wars. Nationalist projects, which render conflicts inevitable, heavily relied on the Orthodox religion for their legitimization, melting into "clerico-nationalism" (Perica, 2002). And while in Yugoslav wars, religion served to set the boundaries between the ingroups and outgroups, the war in Ukraine pitied two Orthodox communities against each other. The wars further revived the old, but actually typically modern perception of the Orthodox Church as "the historical repository of nationhood, national values, and (...) the savior of a nation's very existence" (Radu, 1998). It is within this understanding of religion as a discursive tradition (Asad, 1999) that Orthodoxy has been made usage of as a defender of imagined traditional order, gender roles, and societal hierarchies defending Europe from the alleged decay by liberal globalization,  supposedly decadent multiculturalism, and despised LGBT+ recognition.

Following the fall of Berlin war, some countries of Eastern Europe underwent religious revival described as “Orthodox renaissance” (Blagojevic, 2008). The revival of religion in Easter Europe is often seen in the context of re-traditionalisation, re-collectivization, and spiritual anchoring (Vrcan, 1999), with the Orthodox church vehemently supporting national projects. Wars in former Yugoslavia invited different interpretations of the conflict, one (in)famously claiming that the wars exemplified a "Clash of Civilizations" between Orthodox Slavs, Muslims, and Western-Catholics (Huntington, 1993). In the same text, Huntington takes good relationships between Ukraine and Russia to support his thesis that future wars will be primarily cultural wars, not the ones within 'civilizations'. Many researchers studying the Yugoslav wars rejected Huntington's warmonger interpretation, showing that religion might have played a significant role, albeit dismissing the notion of religious or cultural wars altogether (Velikonja, 2003). Apart from proving Huntington wrong, the war in Ukraine has also set two Orthodox churches and their believers in open conflict, resulting in inter-confessional crises. Yet Orthodoxy already after Greek, Bulgarian and Romanian EU and NATO membership no longer appeared as a unified front against Western or any other 'civilization' but as a complex, internally contested, and multifaceted religious faith and organization embedded in political interests and cultural significations. Orthodoxy as a civilizational project, on the other hand, survives namely in Russia, Serbia and far-right digital networks. There, Orthodoxy is seen as the only Christian denomination fighting against the allegedly decadent i.e.multiculturalist, liberal West, imagining itself as standing as a bastion against Muslim invaders since the XIV century (Serbia) or together with Islamic fundamentalist Iran (Russia).

This panel sets out to explore different ways in which Orthodoxy has been used and misused in various nationalist/neo-imperial projects – from underpinning wars in Europe to the far-right digital networks, asking what is the role of Orthodox Christianity in responses to multiple global crises.

Chair: Vasilios Makrides (Erfurt)


  • Klaus Buchenau (Regensburg): Epistemic cultures clashing: Western academia observing the Orthodox and vice versa: Then (Ex-Yugoslavia, 1991-1999) and now (Russia/Ukraine since 2022) 
  • Stefan Rohdewald (Leipzig): The Orthodox Factor in Russian and Serbian Worlds
  • Sebastian Rimestad (Leipzig/Erfurt): The Orthodox church and the war in Ukraine
  • Katarina Ristić (via Zoom, Leipzig): Orthodoxy in Far-right digital networks: A case study of Orthodox Pepe in 4Chan/pol

Organized by Katarina Ristić and the Global and European Studies Institute

(Autoritärer) Protest als Krisendeutung

Seit einigen Jahren scheinen Krisen nicht nur in regelmäßigen Zyklen zurückzukehren, vielmehr drängt sich der Eindruck verschiedener, aneinander gereihter Krisen auf, die sich zu einem andauernden Krisenzustand verdichten und normalisieren. 2015 wurde in Deutschland vielfach von der „Flüchtlingskrise“ gesprochen. Spätestens mit dem Einsetzen der globalen Klimastreiks von Fridays for Future 2019 ist die Klimakrise zu einem zentralen Knotenpunkt gesellschaftlicher Diskurse geworden, 2020 wurden dann Deutschland und die Welt durch Covid-19 erschüttert und seit 2022 sind es wahlweise Energieversorgung, Krieg oder Inflation, die für „Krisenstimmung“ sorgen. Es scheint kaum noch Zeit zu geben, sich von den Krisen zu erholen, zumal weder das Ende des kriegerischen Vorgehens Russlands gegenüber der Ukraine abzusehen noch die Klimakrise gelöst ist,weshalb hier mit „Folgekrisen“ zu rechnen ist. Aber auch die Demokratie scheint in einer Krise zu stecken. Sich mit dem Zustand der Demokratie in Sachsen zu befassen ist Aufgabe der Forschenden des Else-Frenkel-Brunswik-Instituts. Auf diesem Panel werden drei Forschende des Instituts ihre bisherigen Antworten darauf geben, wie Protestformen mit deutlich antidemokratischen Zügen, die in den letzten Jahren sichtbar zugenommen haben, auch als Reaktionen auf eben jene gesellschaftlichen Krisen zu verstehen sind. Folgende drei Themen sollen vorgestellt werden:

Fiona Kalkstein, Dr. phil., wird Ergebnisse aus dem laufenden Forschungsprojekt „Politischer Protest in der Oberlausitz“ vorstellen. Das Projekt arbeitet mit qualitativen Einzelinterviewsbund Gruppendiskussionen mit Menschen, die an den Anti-Corona-Protesten rund um die sächsische Oberlausitz beteiligt waren. Im Zentrum der tiefenhermeneutischen Auswertung stehen Fragen unterschwelliger, verdrängter Begehren, Motive und Anliegen, die die Menschen auf die Proteste drängen. Das Forschungsprojekt stellt auch einen Versuch dar, sich der inneren Welt der konstruierten Verknüpfung zwischen 1989 und heute anzunähern,die wir seit einigen Jahren auf autoritären Protesten beobachten können.

Piotr Kocyba, Dr. phil., wird einen vergleichenden Blick auf Teilnehmende von Anti-Corona-Protesten in Polen werfen. In einem Mixed-Methods-Ansatz hat er sich mit Deutungsmustern der Pandemie unter denjenigen politisch aktiven Menschen beschäftigt, die skeptisch bis ablehnend gegenüber der Corona-Politik der polnischen Regierung standen. Die Motivationen und Wege in das in Teilen verschwörerische Milieu werden über eine quantitative Protestbefragung und über qualitative Interviews mit Aktivist*innen rekonstruiert. Herausgearbeitet wird, inwiefern in einer ebenso (postkommunistischen) Transformationsgesellschaft ähnliche Narrative greifen wie im Osten der Bundesrepublik Deutschland.

Markus Riepenhausen wirft hingegen einen generellen Blich auf den Verschwörungsglauben. Epistemische Fragmentierungen scheinen im Zuge sich häufender Krisenerscheinungen der vergangenen Jahre eine neue Brisanz hinzugewonnen zu haben, sodass die Rede von einer „Krise der Faktizität“ in aller Munde ist. Während sich im politisch-medialen Diskurs über den verzeichneten Wahrheitsverlust die Diagnosen einer alternativen Faktizität, einer populistischen Komplexitätsreduktion und einer verschwörungsgläubigen Wahrheitskritik häufig überschneiden, soll in diesem Beitrag die Spezifik von Verschwörungserzählungen als ein Deutungsversuch moderner Krisendynamiken herausgearbeitet werden. Dabei wird nicht nur die neuzeitliche Besonderheit im Verschwörungsdenken gesellschaftstheoretisch in denBlick genommen; auch soll das Verhältnis historischer Krisenereignisse und verschwörungsgläubiger Konjunkturen innerhalb moderner Gesellschaften eine zeitdiagnostische Betrachtung finden.


  • Fiona Kalkstein (Leipzig)
  • Piotr Kocyba (Leipzig)
  • Markus Riepenhausen (Leipzig)

Organisiert von Fiona Kalkstein & Piotr Kocyba vom Else-Frenkel-Brunswik-Institut für Demokratieforschung in Sachsen


Participation (required)