Call for papers

Catholics in the Soviet Union:

Testimonies of Ordinary People about the Radical Transformations of the 1920s-1950s.

The Centre for the Study of the History of Religion and Church History of the Institute of World History of the Russian Academy of Sciences invites you to take part in a conference dedicated to the history of everyday life of Catholics in the USSR from the 1920s through the 1950s.

Recently, scholars of religion in the Soviet period have increasingly felt the insufficiency of availablesources for a comprehensive reconstruction of religious life in the twentieth century. Most of them werecreated by the party, state, or police organs, which pursued a strict anti-religious policy and had anexclusively biased view of the religious life of its citizens. However, religious institutions had been systematically disestablished by the regime and hence could no longer collect information about their members. Their archives were subject to seizure and destruction in the pre-war years, and in the later period contained extremely limited information. Hence sources created by believers and hidden from the eyes of state censorship are of particular importance. These sources consist of letters, diaries, memoirs–especially especially those that found their way abroad.

It seems that members of the Catholic Church, both clergy and laity, had more reason, and sometimes more opportunities, to transmit information abroad. In addition, Catholics became actors in the global social and political transformations that took place in Soviet Russia in the 1920s and 1930s. During World War II, many believers, Latin and Byzantine Rite Catholics of different nationalities, found themselves in the territory of the Soviet Union.

We propose to hold a conference to focus on the identification and analysis of sources of non-state (non-party) origin that concern the life of the Catholic community in the USSR in the 1920s – 1950s.

The conference will focus on two sets of questions.

On the one hand, we propose to discuss the typology of sources alternative to the ones produced bythe state, the mechanisms of their creation and preservation, the problems of communication between Catholics in the Soviet Union and their co-religionists abroad, as well as the problems of searching for these sources, their identification, and analysis. What sources are available to us today and what do they tell us about the everyday life of Catholics inside the Soviet Union in the 1920s – 1950s?

On the other hand, it is important to focus on the content of these sources and answer the following questions: how did large-scale social disasters (such as war, repression, deportations, emigration) affectthe daily life of the clergy and laity? How did Catholics see and imagine themselves in the context of the unfolding ideological confrontation between Moscow and the Vatican?

In short, we propose to look at the history of Soviet Union not from the point of view of the party,state or police organs, but “from below”, from the perspective of believers and to discuss historical sources that give exactly this perspective of studying the religious everyday life of the Soviet period.

The conference will be conducted under the auspices of the project “Entangled Histories: Russia andthe Vatican, 1917-1958,” which is funded by the National Science Foundation and carried out at the Institute of World History of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The conference will be held on April 8, 2020.

The conference committee: Dr E. Tokareva, Prof G. Freeze, Dr A. Beglov, Dr N. Beliakova, Dr I. Fadeyev, Dr E. Shebalina, Dr D. Shebalin.

The research materials presented at the conference will be published in 2020 in the thematic issue of the Journal of Education and Science “ISTORIYA” (“History”), indexed in the Web of Science and Scopus databases (

We ask you to send proposals to until January 30, 2020.

Your proposal should contain your name, academic affiliation, the title of your paper, abstract of 300 words, and a short biography.

Remote participation in the conference is a possibility.

Further dates:

February 3, 2020 – notification of the selection of conference papers. March 25, 2020 – submission of the texts of the reports by the author. April 8, 2020 – discussion of the papers at the conference.

May 18, 2020 – submission of the text of the articles for publication. December 1, 2020 – the publication of the article.

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