Cultures in Conflict

Religion, History and Gender in Northern Europe c. 1800–2000

by Alexander Maurits (Volume editor) Johannes Ljungberg (Volume editor) Erik Sidenvall (Volume editor)
©2021 Edited Collection 220 Pages
Open Access


This book includes studies of main conflict areas in modern Western societies where religion has been a central element, ranging from popular movements and narratives of opposition to challenges of religious satire and anti-clerical critique. Special attention is given to matters of politics and gender. With this theme, it provides a useful guide to conflict areas in modern European religious history.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Foreword
  • About the Authors
  • Johannes Ljungberg, Alexander Maurits & Erik Sidenvall
  • Interconnected Conflicts: Religion, History, and Gender
  • Olaf Blaschke
  • Types of Pilgrimages in Germany between Early and High-Ultramontanism: The Examples of Trier (1844) and Marpingen (1876)
  • Tine Van Osselaer
  • Pain, Passion and Compassion. Writing on Stigmatic Women in Modern Europe
  • Inger Littberger Caisou-Rousseau
  • ‘If I Am Not Allowed to Wear Trousers I Cannot Live.’ Therese Andreas Bruce and the Struggle for a Male Identity in Nineteenth-Century Sweden
  • Anders Jarlert
  • ‘Poland is Catholic, and a Pole is a Catholic.’ The Oppressed Evangelical Masurians after the Second World War
  • Dennis Meyhoff Brink
  • ‘Religion’s safe, with Priestcraft is the War’: Satirical Subversion of Clerical Authority in Western Europe 1650−1850
  • Alexander Maurits
  • Catholic Celebrities, Religious Commodities and Commotions in the Light of Swedish Anti-Catholicism
  • Hugh McLeod
  • Religion and the Rise of Modern Sport
  • Franziska Metzger
  • The Religious Memory of Crisis. The Example of Apocalyptic Memory in Nineteenth-Century Art and Fiction
  • Index of Persons

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The aim of this volume is to offer an overview of the main conflict areas in modern Western societies where religion is a central element, ranging from popular movements and narratives of opposition to challenges of religious satire and anticlerical critique. Special attention is paid to political struggles and gender troubles. With this theme, we want to provide an applicable and elaborate compilation on religious conflict areas in modern European religious history.

We are grateful that a number of esteemed colleagues and friends from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Sweden have agreed to contribute to this volume. This has enabled us to draw together a volume characterised by exceptional research and the thorough knowledge of its contributors. The chapters in this volume analyse historical conflicts and conflicts within the field of historiography from various perspectives. Particular emphasis is placed on the impact of religious conflicts on various political struggles and vice versa. Themes covered include anti-Catholicism, gender, popular piety and memory. Chronologically, the chapters cover the period from c. 1650 until the present day. Dealing with different periods and different geographical locations within Northern Europe, this volume reaches over a variety of confessional contexts, thus reflecting the religious plurality in Western Europe.

In addition to the contributing authors, we are indebted to the editorial team at Peter Lang for all their efforts, especially Commissioning Editor Ute Winkelkötter. Finally, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to the Gunvor and Josef Anér Foundation, the Hilda and Håkan Theodor Ohlsson Foundation, the Pleijel Fund, and the Lund University Book Fund for financially supporting the publication of this book.

Johannes Ljungberg, Alexander Maurits & Erik Sidenvall
Copenhagen, Lund & Växjö
April 2021

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About the Authors

OLAF BLASCHKE is professor of history at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster. He has published several works on Catholicism in Modern Germany, launching a contested theory on the long nineteenth century (1830–1960) as a ‘second confessional age’. Most seminal is his dissertation on Catholicism and anti-Semitism (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1997). Recently he has published Die Kirchen und der Nationalsozialismus (Reclam 2014, 2. edition: bpb, Bonn 2019) and together with Francisco Javier Ramón Solans Weltreligion im Umbruch: Transnationale Perspektiven auf das Christentum in der Globalisierung (Campus 2019).

ANDERS JARLERT is senior professor of church history at Lund University and director of the Archives of Ecclesiastical History at Lund University. He has published numerous books and articles on early modern and modern church history, among them Piety and Modernity: The Dynamics of Religious Reform in Northern Europe, 1780–1920 (Leuven University Press, 2012). He is the editor of Kyrkohistorisk årsskrift [Swedish Yearbook of Church History], a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, and the president of the Commission Internationale d’Histoire et d’Études du Christianisme (CIHEC).

INGER LITTBERGER CAISOU-ROUSSEAU is a reader in literary history. Her publications include Ulla Isakssons romankonst [The Fiction of Ulla Isaksson] (1996), Omvändelser: Nedslag i svenska romaner under hundra år [Conversions: One Hundred Years of Swedish Novels] (2004) and Över alla gränser: Manlighet och kristen (o)tro hos Almqvist, Strindberg och Lagerlöf [Breaching the Boundaries: Masculinity and Christian (Un-)belief in Almqvist, Strindberg and Lagerlöf] (2012).

JOHANNES LJUNGBERG is a postdoc in history at the Centre for Privacy Studies at the University of Copenhagen. He received his doctorate at Lund University with his dissertation Toleransens gränser: Religionspolitiska dilemman i det tidiga 1700-talets Sverige och Europa [The Limits of Toleration: Swedish Pietist conflicts in a European perspective c. 1700–1730]. For his postdoctoral research, Ljungberg is funded by the Danish National Research Foundation within a major research program exploring notions of privacy and the private in eleven cities of early modern Europe. Ljungberg is a part of the interdisciplinary case teams working with Helmstedt and Altona.

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ALEXANDER MAURITS is a senior lecturer in church history at Lund University. In his research, Maurits has primarily dealt with the role of the churches in Western and Northern Europe, especially the Church of Sweden, modernity and gender. He is one of the editors of Kyrkan och idrotten under 2000 år: Antika, medeltida och moderna attityder till idrott [Church and Sports over 2000 years: Antique, Medieval, and Modern Approaches to Sport] (Universus Academic Press 2015) and Classics in Northern European Church History over 500 Years (Peter Lang Verlag 2017).

HUGH MCLEOD is a professor emeritus of church history at the University of Birmingham and the former president of Commission Internationale d’Histoire et d’Études du Christianisme (CHIEC). In 2003, he received an honorary doctorate at Lund University. His research mainly investigates the social history of religion in Western Europe, not least the topic of secularisation. Among his publications are The Religious Crisis of the 1960s (Oxford University Press 2007). He was editor of World Christianities c. 1914–c. 2000 (Cambridge University Press 2006).

FRANZISKA METZGER is professor of history at the University of Teacher Education Lucerne, and since 2011 chief editor of Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Religions-und Kulturgeschichte. She has published extensively on memory culture in relation to politics, religion and culture in the nineteenth century. Her publications include Religion, Geschichte, Nation: Katolische Geschichtsschreibung in der Schweiz im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (Kohlhammer 2010), as well as the co-edited volumes Ausdehnung der Zeit: Die Gestaltung von Erinnerungsräumen in Geschichte, Literatur und Kunst, ed. with Dimiter Daphinoff (Böhlau Verlag 2019) and Sacred Heart Devotion: Memory, Body, Image, Text -Continuities and Discontinuities, ed. with Stefan Tertünte (Böhlau Verlag 2021).

DENNIS MEYHOFF BRINK is an adjunct professor at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) in Copenhagen. In his research, Brink investigates the themes, tropes and devices of religious satire in modern Europe. Among his publications are ‘Affective atmospheres in the House of Usher’ in Journal of the Short Story in English (2016), ‘Fearing Religious Satire: Religious Censorship and Satirical Counter-Attacks’ in Comics and Power (Cambridge Scholars Press 2015), and Løgn og Latin: Spot, spe og religionssatire 1500–1900 (Storm P. Museet 2014).

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ERIK SIDENVALL is adjunct professor of church history at Lund University, where he also received his doctorate in 2002 with his dissertation Change and Identity: Protestant English Interpretations of John Henry Newman’s Secession, 1845–1864. In his research, Sidenvall analyses gender in religion and confessional identities. His publications include After Anti-Catholicism? John Henry Newman and Protestant Britain, 1845–c. 1890 (T&T Clark 2005) and The Making of Manhood among Swedish Missionaries in China and Mongolia, c. 1890–c. 1914 (Brill 2009).

TINE VAN OSSELAER is research professor in the history of spirituality, devotion and mysticism at the Ruusbroec Institute of the University of Antwerp. Among her publications are The pious sex: Catholic constructions of masculinity and femininity in Belgium, c. 1800–1940 (Leuven University Press 2013) and Christian homes: Religion, family and domesticity in the 19th and 20th centuries (Leuven University Press 2014). She was the principal investigator of ‘Between saints and celebrities. The devotion and promotion of stigmatics in Europe, c. 1800–1950’, a project financed by the European Research Council.

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Johannes Ljungberg, Alexander Maurits & Erik Sidenvall

Interconnected Conflicts: Religion,
History, and Gender

Conflicts are often the given starting-point in historical research. Sources of various kinds, to be interpreted and contextualised by the present-day scholar, not infrequently emerge from within conflicts. The memory of past clashes − social, political or ideological − are often kept alive within any given society for an extended period of time, a fact which adds both urgency and a surprising complexity to the study of conflicts in history.

Since the Second World War, the international community of historians have increasingly adopted an overall interpretative framework inspired by Marxist theory. Conflicts are understood to be adjacent to, and a necessary ingredient of, social change. However fruitful such a perspective has proven to be, it has tended to direct the scholarly gaze towards particular kinds of conflicts while leaving others aside. Given the alignment of conflicts and social change, research inspired by Marxist theory of conflict has tended to focus on contests on a collective, societal level.

Within the field of religious history, studies inspired by a Marxist understanding of conflict have given valuable insights into the role of churches and other religious organisations in aiding or opposing movements of change and liberation. Some scholars, most notably E.P. Thompson,1 have also seen religion as a major explicatory force. Yet the overall impact of Marxist theory has been to downplay the role of religion in understanding social change. This tendency has been most clearly seen in studies dealing with the so-called modern era.

In recent years, however, there has been a renewed interest in studying religion as a major cultural force and the origin of identity formation. This tendency is notable even in the studies dealing with supposedly ‘secular’ societies. Even though this gradual shift of attention cannot solely be explained by recent political events, the wars in former Yugoslavia, the terrorist attack of 9/11, the rise and fall of ISIS, and its tragic aftermath, have further underscored the need not to leave religion altogether out of the equation.

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Indeed, from a variety of perspectives religion is a tangible factor in many conflicts. We need only think of issues associated with freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Such conflicts often highlight the relationship between minority religious groups and majority culture (both secular and religious). We can also see how controversy follows in the wake of popular religious movements, often advancing notions that run counter to what is understood as dominating values of society. The role of religion also becomes visible when we consider the encounter between various identity constructs in both past and present societies. Clashes between such formative expressions can be seen in virtually every part of the globe. Far from being a mere remnant of the past, religion has shaped, for better and for worse, our ways of understanding ourselves and the society we live in. To a considerable extent we find religion at the very roots of our mindset.

With increasing recognition of how religion has contributed (and still contributes) towards the shaping of modern societies, the need to understand the ways in which churches, or other religious organisations, interact with society at large has gained a renewed sense of urgency. Focusing on Europe, we see clearly how the rise of industrialism, nationalism, secularism, liberalism and democracy triggered complex and radical reactions within the dominating churches, a majority of which were moulded to suit the needs and desires of an ancien régime. On the part of the churches alternative strategies had to be explored and developed in order to find a suitable place within rapidly changing societies. These responses by the churches had both profound cultural and political repercussions.

An increasing number of historians have focused on how escalating inter-confessional rivalry and an often heightened sense of contention between religious and supposedly secular values became a feature of modern Europe. Contention and opposition can be seen as integral parts of a peculiar understanding of society according to which divisions along confessional and/or denominational lines were seen as lying at the root of the social order. These conflicts can sometimes be understood within a paradigm infused with Marxist theoretical thinking; at other times such a framework tricks the contemporary scholar to leave certain peculiarities aside. With the inevitable idiosyncrasies of an edited volume, this book hopes to shed new light on a period during which religious strife and contention were not only seen as unwanted remnants of a trouble past, but as central expressions of identity and way of life.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Open Access
Publication date
2021 (May)
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2021. 220 pp., 6 fig. col., 9 fig. b/w.

Biographical notes

Alexander Maurits (Volume editor) Johannes Ljungberg (Volume editor) Erik Sidenvall (Volume editor)

Johannes Ljungberg is a Postdoctoral Fellow in History at the University of Copenhagen. Alexander Maurits is a Senior Lecturer in Church History at Lund University. Erik Sidenvall is Adjunct Professor of Church History at Lund University.


Title: Cultures in Conflict
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222 pages