CfP: Veritas in a Time of Great Truths? Dominicans and the 20th-century Ideologies in Europe

In 1994, Eric Hobsbawm defined the short 20th century (from the start of the First World War until the fall of the Soviet Union) as the ‘age of extremes’. It was a century that saw the rise and decline of competing ideologies such as fascism and communism, of swift economic growth and decline, of the transformation of colonial imperialism into more subtle attempts at world dominance, and of the shift from romantic 19th-century nationalism to ‘nationalism in a world of nation states’ (Breuilly). These evolutions did not go unnoticed by the Dominican Order, famous for incorporating Karl Barth’s principle of holding the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. With regard to the long 19th century, Benedict T. Viviano once stated that ‘no group in the church was more helpful in enabling the episcopal and papal magisterial to face up to the new cultural and political challenges’ than the Dominicans. But how did they do this in the 20th century? That is the topic we aim to investigate at this conference.

We invite scholars to present their research on the sometimes ambivalent attitude of Dominicans – individually or in a group – towards the ideologies that have dominated Europe in the past century, such as nationalism, fascism, nazism and communism. Did they propose strategies of resistance, accommodation or collaboration, and what was their underlying motivation to do so? How did their stance impact the position of the Order and the Church, both on the local and the general level? How did this influence their self-understanding (ad intra) and their public image (ad extra)? Did this generate conflicts within the Order? Were there long-term consequences, perhaps even until today? In short, how did they live up to the motto of the Order, Veritas, in a context of diverse ideological claims to truth?

Scholars – senior as well as junior – are invited to propose a topic by sending an abstract (300 words) and their C.V. to Anton Milh OP (anton.milh@kuleuven.be) before September 30, 2020. They will receive a confirmation of their participation before November 30. The duration of a paper presentation will be thirty minutes, and each paper will be followed by a twenty minutes discussion with the audience.

The conference will take place at the Leipzig Dominican convent (Georg-Schumann Straße 336) from May 28 to May 31, 2021.

The organizational committee is formed by Prof. Dr. Claus Arnold (Katholisch-Theologische Fakultät, Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz), Elias H. Füllenbach OP (Institut zur Erforschung der Geschichte des Dominikanerordens im deutschen Sprachraum, Cologne), and Anton Milh OP (Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, Catholic University of Leuven).

Confirmed speakers are: Prof. Dr. Claus Arnold, Elias H. Füllenbach OP, Dr. Brian Heffernan, Dr. Augustin Laffay OP, and Anton Milh OP.


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