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Forced Migration, Religious Diplomacy and Human Security in the Eastern Orthodox World

Principal Investigator: Dr Lucian Leustean, Reader in Politics and International Relations, Aston University 

Abstract:

This project examines the relationship between forced migration, religious diplomacy and human security in Eastern Europe and Russia, as reflected in the post-1992 breakup of Yugoslavia, the post-2011 Syrian crisis and the 2014 Russian takeover of Crimea. It focuses on four areas: 1) the circulation of ideas on human security between religious and secular courts, monastic settlements, pilgrimage sites and educational establishments; 2) religious strategies in relation to violence, tolerance, transitory environments and resettlement; 3) religious support, protection and mechanisms towards displaced populations, and 4) religious channels of diplomatic engagement advancing human security. The project collects the first dataset on ‘Eastern Orthodoxy and Human Security’ and organises two workshops held by an interdisciplinary Network on ‘Religion, Diplomacy and Human Security in the Eastern Orthodox World’ which brings together academics and policy makers. It provides education materials to diplomats and policy makers on how to engage with religious actors in Bulgaria, Greece, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine.

Principal Aim of Project

The project offers an understanding of the role of religious communities in fostering violence, survival, tolerance and resettlement, religious support, formal and informal types of diplomacy towards forced displaced populations.

Research Questions

1.How do Orthodox actors (national churches, religious institutions, national and internationally-affiliated organizations) and state bodies engage with human security in Bulgaria, Greece, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine?

2.What are the mechanisms of Orthodox support towards forced displacement communities in these countries? How does forced migration impact upon religious practices, values and political structures?

3.How do Orthodox actors engage in diplomatic relations with both religious and secular bodies? How does Orthodox diplomacy impact upon state relations in Eastern Europe and Russia and, most importantly, between Eastern and Western Europe?

Methodology

1.Dataset on ‘Eastern Orthodoxy and Human Security’

During the first six months (1 January-31 May 2018) it will collect qualitative and quantitative data in Belgrade and Kiev. The interviews will be conducted in the capitals of these countries with official representatives of Orthodox churches and state bodies in charge of religious affairs. The areas of investigation are as follows 1) ideas related to human security among religious and secular courts, monastic settlements, pilgrimage sites and educational establishments; 2) violence, tolerance, transitory environments and resettlement; 3) support, protection and mechanisms towards displaced populations, and 4) diplomatic engagement advancing transnational alliances on security.    

2.Academic and Public Policy Network on ‘Religion, Diplomacy and Human Security in the Eastern Orthodox World’

The Network will officially start on 1 January 2018. In the second part of the project (1 June-31 December 2018), the Network will assess in detail national case studies on the four themes of investigation and ensure dissemination and policy engagement in the region by organising two workshops:

a)‘Religion and Migration in the Eastern Orthodox World’ in Belgrade (June 2018).

b)‘Religion, Migration and Social Change in the Eastern Orthodox World' in Kiev (September 2018). 

The programme of each workshop will be designed by taking into account local expertise and by bringing together academics, civil society, mass media and governmental organisations.

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