Across Europe, national educational systems provide forceful links between states and citizens. The mandatory school is a primary locus for socialisation of young people, aiming to make them socially and culturally competent within bounded state territories. In geographical areas bordering on those of other states, however, this primary function of educational systems is challenged by ambiguities and tensions connected to liminality and inter-cultural experiences. In border areas, the unavoidable requirement of educational policy and syllabi to reproduce nations’ official symbols, narratives, goals, beliefs, historical sensitivities, and territorial demarcations typically faces resistance by the liminal state itself – increasing the complexity and contestedness of education.
This project is designed to study religious education in a set of schools physically located on either side of four national borders in the Baltic-Barent area. Along this divide different combinations of religious and educational thought and organisation meet. Official national Lutheran-Protestant, Russian Orthodox, and Catholic traditions interact in a multiplicity of ways with post-communist, secular, liberal democratic, statist and federal political systems. Whilst thus being a cultural-religious divide, the Baltic-Barent brim is also the political boundary between post-Soviet Russia and the European Union (+Norway); i.e. a former extension of the Berlin Wall.
The purpose of the project is to trace and analyse the role and impact of liminality in religious teaching and educational policy implementation – i.e. how religion is taught and education thought – in north eastern European border communities.
This theme will be approached from four research directions: political, religious, geographical, and educational studies. One overall ambition of the project is to develop a cross-disciplinary analytical and conceptual framework for understanding the interplay between concrete liminal identity and actual national educational practices. But the main aim is to clarify how and to what extent liminality affects religious education in post-Mauer society. Are embedded social, ideological, and educational restraints and conditions similar or different in the examined cases? Are there general patterns? Is there a liminal logic?