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ERC project Rewriting Global Orthodoxy

The ERC project ‘Rewriting Global Orthodoxy: Oriental Christians in Europe between 1970 and 2020’, led by H. Murre-van den Berg, runs from October 2019 to October 2024 at the Radboud University Nijmegen.

Over the last fifty years, Oriental Orthodox Christians (Armenians, Copts, Syriacs/Arameans, Ethiopians and Eritreans) from the Middle East and Africa have settled in Europe, fleeing war-related violence and societal pressures. One of the prominent aspects of religious practice of these transnational Oriental communities is their strong emphasis on the writing and publishing of texts. These include traditional religious texts (from liturgy to history), re-translated and re-contextualised texts, and completely new texts. The project takes these textual practices as its main source to understand how these Oriental Christians inscribe themselves in European societies and so contribute not only to the transformation of their own transnational churches but also to that of Orthodoxy worldwide. It hypothesises that diachronic and synchronic comparison among Oriental and Eastern Orthodox churches will show that this rewriting includes the actualisation of their religious heritage vis-à-vis ethnic and national self-definitions, vis-à-vis European society, and vis-à-vis other churches, particularly Orthodox ones.

The project consists of several sub-projects, including a database of books, pamphlets and magazines produced by Oriental Christians in Europe over the past fifty years and three case studies of the textual practices of Oriental Christian churches in Europe on the Syriac Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox and Ethiopian/Eritrean Tawahedo churches which have been taken on by three PhD students. Two postdoctoral researchers have taken up a comparative and interpretative study, taking into account textual materials from Orthodox traditions from the Middle East and Africa as currently present in Europe (such as the Assyrian, Chaldean, Antiochian and Armenian churches) which are not included in the case studies.

These two projects together with the database and the three basic case studies feed into the overarching comparative project ‘Rewriting Global Orthodoxy: Oriental Churches contributing to new forms of ‘global Orthodoxy’’.

The full research proposal is available upon request.

For more information on the research project, you can also visit the special project website Rewriting Global Orthodoxy.