Ongoing Projects

Coronavirus: A New Test(ament) of Orthodox Christianity: A comparative analysis of 12 European countries

Longevity (2021-22)

Funding Organization: Center for Governance and Culture in Europe, University of St.Gallen, Switzerland

Principal Investigator: Dr. Tornike Metreveli

The COVID-19 pandemic has emerged as an existential challenge to all societies and Orthodox Christianity in particular. Orthodox Christianity accounts for approximately 260 million members globally, three-quarters (77%) of which live in Europe. With the exponential growth of coronavirus cases worldwide, Orthodox churches around the globe face increasingly restrictive rules imposed by local governments. They faced a dilemma. Churches either had to suspend the Divine Liturgy and the mystery of the Holy Communion, adapt the Eucharist to the state’s demands of social distancing and remove the practice of communion from the same spoon or challenge the state regulations using various legal clauses (e.g. ‘freedom of belief’) and mystical discourses (e.g., the virus cannot be transmitted through the Eucharist because of the true presence of the Incarnate Christ).

The impact of the church’s response to a global pandemic is immense. Churches are the most trusted institutions in the cultural spaces dominated by Orthodox Christianity. The extent of religiosity in Orthodox countries is high. Churches voice conservative resilience against globalization. A global pandemic, however, emerges as a novel type of challenge. The scale of inter-dependencies between religious and political actors reaches an unprecedented level with the proliferation of the coronavirus. Yet, churches choose to respond differently. This project inquires the reasons for such divergent responses. In answering this question, the project combines classical methods of data gathering (e.g., discourse and institutional analysis) with an innovative survey app that will allow us to track and identify how the role of religion adapts and changes across time and place.

Territoriality of the Georgian Orthodox Church

Longevity (2021 with a possibility of extension)

Funding Organization: Center for Governance and Culture in Europe, University of St.Gallen, Switzerland

Principal Investigator: Dr. Tornike Metreveli

This project examines whether and to what extent the spatial dimension of the church’s vision of territoriality matches Georgia’s legal borders. By creating an interactive map, the project will visualize how discourses of GOC over territoriality relate to the practices of church-building. By employing various qualitative and quantitative methods, we will analyze the number of churches and their geographical location to process trace when and how the discourses over territoriality and actual legal borders of the state (mis)match. All data will be visualized on the digital map as a major output of the project along with the study and open access articles. The findings of the research will also be adapted to various digital products. This will guarantee that broader audiences will learn new findings of the study in digestible media formats.