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GeoJournal

, Volume 67, Issue 4, pp 253–265 | Cite as

The political geography of religion: historical state-church relations in Europe and recent challenges

  • Hans Knippenberg
Article

Abstract

Historical processes of state formation and nation building are crucial for an understanding of the geography of religions and churches in Europe. Each country has developed its own model of state-church relations, giving rise to a ‘bewildering variety’ as Grace Davie aptly remarks. The aim of this paper is to bring some order to this variety by developing a framework for the comparative study of church-state relations based on Stein Rokkan’s famous conceptual map and recent extensions of it to Central and Eastern Europe by John Madeley. According to that framework Europe has been divided into three mono-confessional (Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodox) blocs and two multi-confessional culture belts from Northwest to Southeast, and from Northeast to Southeast. This historical pattern has been challenged by secularisation, which started with the Enlightenment and the French Revolution (Western Europe) and the Russian Revolution (Eastern Europe until the velvet revolutions of 1989/1991) and then became widespread after the ‘cultural revolutions’ of the 1960s. A second challenge has to do with globalisation and its consequences, such as massive immigration and the rise of immigrant religions, and in general deterritorialisation, which means the disembeddedness of religion from its national territory. A third challenge concerns reterritorialisation at other (supranational, regional, transnational, and local) scales, of which the new territorial order of the European Union seems to be the most important. Finally, this paper serves as an introduction to the case studies on church-state relations in this special issue.

Keywords

Europe Geography of religions Nation building Political geography State-church relations State formation 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography, Planning and International Development StudiesUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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