Thursday, 27. October
City Museum of Ljubljana, 12.30 – 14.30

  • Izabela Kowalczyk, The School of Humanities and Journalism Poznan, Poland
  • Ovidijus Visniauskas, alternative radio station StartFM, Lithuania
  • Ivan Jurica, independent cultural worker, Slovakia
  • Breda Gray, University of Limerick, Ireland

Moderator: Martin Jaigma, Peace Institute, Slovenia

Izabela Kowalczyk is an art historian, an art critique and a curator. She studied Art History at “Adam Mickiewicz” University in Poznan, Poland; Gender Studies at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary and attended the Summer Institute in Art History and Visual Studies at the University of Rochester, USA. Currently she works at The School of Humanities and Journalism in Poznan. She is the author of the books on Polish critical art, popular culture, feminism and feminist art. She is the founder and co-editor of the net magazine on feminism and visual culture Artmix (, and a member of the independent group acting for freedom of artistic expression “Index 73” (,index.php). She was the author of the first open letter in defence of controversial artist Dorota Nienznalska and the co-initiator of the “Days for Equality and Freedom” in Poznan (2004) as well as the nationwide “Days for the Freedom of Speech” (2002 and 2005).

Art and Religion in Poland

In my presentation I wish to examine the connection between art and democracy by focusing on the cases connected to religion. Poland opened itself up to the West and turned to the capitalist system in 1989. The year is hailed as the regaining of freedom after the communist period. However, new threats to freedom have appeared after 1989. One such threat is connected to the power of the conservatives and the Catholic Church. Poland is predominantly a Roman Catholic country: approximately 90% of the Polish population has been baptised. The Church plays a strong role in public and political life. Polish right-wing politicians are responsible for, among other things, the ban on abortion introduced by law in 1993, inadequate public education on sexuality, and discrimination (including in the form of large-scale homophobia) in different fields of social life.

Contemporary art is commonly perceived as something scandalous. The art adversaries’ most commonly exploited argument is that art offends religious feelings. Any art that initiates a discussion on Polish Catholicism, and the impact of the Church on people’s consciousness, is considered dangerous – as is art that relates to sensitive issues like intolerance and social exclusion. There is a strong pressure by people and groups related to right-wing parties and to the radical wing of the Catholic Church (e.g., Radio Maryja) not to display controversial art. As a result, many exhibitions have been closed or repealed. However the most absurd example is that of a court case against artist Dorota Nieznalska, who was accused of offending religious feelings in her work Passion, and brought to trial in 2002. It is worth remembering that both artistic freedom and freedom of speech are guaranteed by the Polish Constitution. However, there is a problem in Polish society regarding its democracy, and the understanding of what democracy is.

Ovidijus Višniauskas is a student of journalism at the Vilnius University, Lithuania. He attended two internships in the regional daily newspaper Šiaulių kraštas (2009) and in the Lithuanian National Radio and Television (2010). In 2011 he started internship at national commercial television BTV and at the daily internet newspaper He also worked in the weekly national magazine Veidas (covering politics, economy, business and culture) as a freelance journalist (October 2010 – April 2011).

In October 2010 he was a part of the youth exchange “Let Peace Be Our Culture” in Turkey, organized by the EU program Youth in Action and sponsored by the European Commission. From March 2010 he is engaged in the non-government, non-commercial radio station StartFm, where he work as a radio journalist, radio show producer, editor, and radio host.

EU Enlargement: Islam as a Threat?

I am going to talk from my personal and my colleagues’ point of view about European Union enlargement and its possibilities. As always, there are ambivalent opinions about the integration processes, enlargement, transnational effects and multicultural dialogue. Some people say that tolerance is a quintessential point of the entire European Union, so there should be no problems or other controversial questions about religion issue. Multicultural compound is inevitable, so it is better to start to form this structure by ourselves because then we have a possibility to plan ahead and to avoid dire consequences. Acting like this would be better than letting this structure to set out by itself.

On the other hand, there are many points of view that such an EU enlargement (Turkey, Islam) would force this union into a collapse. Argumentation is very simple: EU would face an absolutely different religion, culture, traditions, etc. Moreover, there are concerns about human rights, geopolitics, secularism, fundamentalism… These are the main objects which would make the transnational and multicultural dialog more difficult and controversial.

We, the people from the North-Eastern Europe, know and see two Turkeys: “Western” – for tourists, for Europe, with enchanting resorts, and “Eastern” – with real Islam, cultural and religious background, economical and political problems. But this is about all what we see and know. Deep inside, we do not know anything about Turkey. We do not know about the real situation regarding human rights, secularists, fundamentalists, racial and religious conflicts, etc. Some people welcome this very strong desire and ambition of Turkey to become a member of one of the largest and most influential unions in the world. But the others say that it is impossible for Turkey to conform itself with this union. The main argument supporting this view is the presence of Islam.

Ivan Jurica is an artist, works on intersection of art, theory and politics. His focus is on topics concerning ideology, relationship between the East and the West, social conflicts and derived art and cultural production. Jurica is also active within the art-education department at MUMOK, Vienna, Austria. He currently lives in Vienna and works in Vienna and Bratislava, Slovakia.

Dismanteling State of Secularism: Institutionalized Religion between Own Totalitarian Tradition and Totality of The Market

This contribution on the topics of religion and secularity attempts to question the secular status of the modern democratic state by focusing on its relationship with the institutionalized religion. The intention here is explicitly to tackle the Slovakian condition in order to place the dominant religious institution of the Catholic Church. For the analysis I will use the “Agreement with Vatican on the Right to Conscientious Objection”, a worldwide unique “Conscience Concordat” as an example. As this agreement legitimizes privileges for the Catholic Church on the one hand, and leads to marginalization of especially classes and groups which traditionally experience discrimination on the other, its context has to be understood as an example for what the notion of a secular society, on which the majority of the post ’89 Eastern European societies is constructed, means in the practice.

In societies, where the “Catching up the West” in combination with nationalisms became the main ideology, agreements as this one represent another form of governmentality toward the East (will the West follow?). A governmentality via assignations that are being dictated from the West, in this particular case from Vatican, position its religious agenda in the form of an international agreement over the secular character of the state guaranteed by its constitution: from regulating the conscientious objection up to financing the Catholic church and its ideological interests and activities in the era of complete privatization, solely by the state funds. At the same time it is impossible to lose out of sight the status of the Eastern European societies as the so-called “transformational” ones – those of catching up the West (in terms of using a nicer terminology on economical neo-colonization). The discrepancy between the modernist notion of progress (technological and economic development) and stagnation (culturally and socially) reproduces social and class hierarchies and conflicts, which, again, traditionally find a strong recourse within the institutionalized religion.

Breda Gray is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Limerick, Ireland. Her research interests include gender, transnationalism and diaspora; migration governance and religion; and gender and work/life in the new economy. She is a Principal Investigator on the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) project on the Irish Catholic Church and the Politics of Migration and a Co-Principal Investigator on the Government of Ireland-funded project Nomadic Work/Life in the Knowledge Economy.

Publications includes: Women and the Irish Diaspora (Routledge, London and New York 2004); co-editor (with Anthony D’Andrea and Luigina Ciolfi) special issue of Mobilities 6(2) on ‘Methodological Challenges and Innovations Mobilities Research’, Spring 2011; editor special issue Irish Journal of Sociology 18(3) on ‘The Transnational Turn in Sociology’, December 2011; ‘Methodological Challenges and Innovations in Mobilities Research’, Mobilities 6(2) 2011 (with Anthony D’Andrea and Luigina Ciolfi); ‘Becoming Non-Migrant: Lives Worth Waiting for’, Gender, Place and Culture 18(2) 2011; ‘Governing Integration’ in B. Fanning and R. Munck (ed.) Globalization, Migration and Social Transformation (Ashgate, Farnham, Surrey 2011); ‘Affective and Political Categories in Feminist Debates about Social Justice’ in W. Ruberg and K. Steenbergh (ed.) Sexed Sentiments. Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Gender and Emotion (Rodopi, Amsterdam 2011); ‘Migration, Life Narratives, Memory and Subjectivity: Reflections on an Archival Project on Irish Migration’, Migration Letters 6(2) 2009; ‘Putting Emotion and Reflexivity to Work in Researching Migration’, Sociology 42(4) 2008; ‘Redefining the Nation Through Economic Growth and Migration: Changing Rationalities of Governance in the Republic of Ireland’, Mobilities 1(3) 2006; ‘Migrant Integration Policy: A Nationalist Fantasy of Management and Control?’, Translocations: Migration and Social Change 1(1) 2006 (; and ‘Curious Hybridities: Transnational Negotiations of Migrancy Through Generation’, Irish Studies Review, 14(2) 2006.

The Shifting Scope of Religious Authority in the Field of Migrant Integration. An Irish Case Study

This paper takes the turn by states to Faith-Based Organisations (FBO) as agents of migrant integration across many countries in Europe as a starting point for considering the specificity of a similar turn in the Republic of Ireland. While the engagement of FBOs in most European states is framed by a perceived threat of Muslim radicalisation and focuses mainly on minority FBOs, this is less explicitly the case in Ireland where the work of existing churches in migrant integration is specifically endorsed. This includes Catholic FBOs, as the Catholic Church in Ireland claims a role in migrant integration in response to the increased diversity of its flock due to immigration and its expertise in pastoral care with Irish emigrants across the diaspora for nearly two centuries. Moreover, this work serves as a way of legitimating the moral purpose of the church at a time when it has been stripped of moral legitimacy due to ongoing revelations of child abuse and secularising trends. So instead of focusing on state relationships with faith-based minority FBOs, my eye in this paper is more towards the ways in which established Christian churches and specifically the Catholic Church in Ireland may be gaining new legitimacy as state migrant integration policies turn towards FBOs as key sites of migrant integration and population management.

Despite the specific reference to Ireland as a case study in this paper, the overall paper is driven by two key questions:

  1. Which rationalities of governance underpin the turn to FBOs as part of state population management strategies?
  2. How are the boundaries of the secular and religious reconfigured in these rationalities of governance

Using a Foucauldian governmentality analysis to examine the implications of changing forms of migrant governance, this paper argues that the construction of religious organisations as agents of migrant integration can be read as an expression of moves towards neo-liberal governmentality that involve the responsibilisation and disciplining of religious civil society actors. In this way, the paper suggests that we are witnessing a new configuration of state-religion boundaries.