The Re-Enchantment of Central-Eastern Europe (ReEnchEu)

Project Title

The Re-Enchantment of Central-Eastern Europe (ReEnchEu)


Project start


Duration up to 2023



ReEnchEu – The Re-Enchantment of Central-Eastern Europe” is an ERC CZ project funded by the Czech Ministry of Education and led by Dr. Alessandro Testa at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University, Prague. The project embraces the perspective of a historical anthropology of religious beliefs and practices in post-socialist central-eastern Europe after 1989.

Although the topic of religion in post-socialist countries has been rather explored in recent years, the originality of this project lies in its being built on a set of research questions that have received little attention so far. The notion of “re-enchantment” refers in fact to the emergence or re-emergence of religious phenomena that are less structured and less formalised than “official” religions. These phenomena, which seem to have emerged during the transition from real socialism to liberalism, can be categorised as follows: 1) forms of vernacular religion understood as the re-appropriation of popular beliefs and practices that had existed, especially in rural contexts, before the modernisation brought about by the communist regimes; 2) forms of magic explicitly or implicitly associated to older native practices, not necessarily – but not discounting either – those linked to Neopaganism; 3) the religious aspects of “civic rituality” and of tangible and intangible cultural heritage social production and consumption; 4) alternative or exotic forms of “spiritualities”, or professions of believing in “something” but without following any church or being part of any organised religious group.

The project will investigate historiographically, ethnographically, and comparatively the structural reasons and cultural conditions for this “re-enchantment”, with the aim of understanding the historical dynamics and social factors that have determined this transformation in central-eastern Europe. In order to do this, a multidisciplinary research team has been formed consisting of five recognized scholars working from different disciplinary methodological angles (historical anthropology, social anthropology, sociology, folkloristics, and religious studies): Dr. Alessandro Testa, Dr. Zuzana Bártová, Dr. Agata Ładykowska, Dr. István Povedák, and Dr. Viola Teisenhoffer. Each investigator will conduct ethnographic research in four different locations in Czechia, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary, using a variety of sources and interacting with a variety of social agents in order to gather relevant empirical evidence.

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