Platform East: An Unholy Alliance?
“Christian Values” and Anti-Gender Politics in Central and Eastern Europe

Discourse | In English

This event took place before the festival on 26.02.20 in the Grüner Salon of the Volksbühne.

With: Regina Elsner (ZOiS, Berlin), Radoslav Stoyanov (Bulgarian Helsinki Commitee, Sofia)
Moderation: Patricia Hecht (taz, Berlin)
Input: Elżbieta Korolczuk (Södertörn University, Stockholm), Kristina Stöckl (University of Innsbruck)

Today, right-wing populist movements and authoritarian governments worldwide use “Christian values” to promote conservative social policies. They proclaim to represent what is supposedly “real" civil society, as opposed to the elites. In countries such as Russia, Poland or Bulgaria in particular, the anti-gender and pro-family agenda of right-wing parties strengthens those who are nationalist and critical of Europe. However, these movements are also part of international ultraconservative Christian alliances that view Eastern Europe as a new bastion for the defense of their values. For instance, these links are clearly evident at the World Congress of Families (WCF), where ultraconservative Christian groups and individuals gather to defend a traditionalist understanding of the family.

What are the driving factors behind this “unholy alliance” of religion and politics, in which gender is equated with demoralization? What role do the Catholic and Orthodox Churches play in this process? How do the different denominations of the Christian church position themselves and engage in this conflict of values?


Regina Elsner is a theologian and a researcher at ZOiS. Through the project Morality instead of peace, Regina Elsner is investigating the dynamics of Russian Orthodox social ethics since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Elżbieta Korolczuk is a sociologist, commentator and women’s and human rights activist. She works at Södertörn University in Stockholm and teaches at the American Studies Center at Warsaw University. Her research interests involve: gender, social movements and civil society. She published numerous texts, e.g. on the women’s movement and its relation with neoliberalism, on new forms of citizenship, politicization of reproduction and anti-gender mobilization in Poland and abroad.

Radoslav Stoyanov is a Bulgarian human rights activist with a focus on LGBTI issues. As a gay activist, he litigated many cases before the national equality body regarding public hate speech against sexual minorities. He is acting as a watchdog for right-wing conservative activities in Bulgaria. He is currently working as an expert in the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee and is pursuing a master’s degree in law.

Patricia Hecht worked for radio and print in Germany, Mexico and Colombia, before she joined taz in 2012. She was editor on the Berlin desk and for the front page and is now gender editor on the politics desk, working for example on reproductive rights and antifeminism. She was part of the international research team Europe's Far Right, reporting on strategies and networks of European far right politics.


Platform East
Which forms of civic engagement exist in Eastern Europe? Which agents are participating in the restructuring of public space? How has collective memory changed in the post-Soviet era? The new series Platform East will raise these questions and many others as part of the transcultural festival POSTWEST. Academics, artists, and activists from Central and Eastern Europe as well as various experts on Eastern Europe will address the socially relevant issues that affect their everyday lives: the freedom of art and media, the politics of memory and the construction of identities, generational relationships and conflicts as well as protest against political systems. Bringing together these different professions will produce mental collages that expand epistemic horizons and serve as the starting point for diverse future scenarios and a collective utopia of POSTWEST.

The series Platform East is a collaboration between the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS) and the Volksbühne Berlin. Through panel discussions, films, lecture performances, and other formats, the series will function as a platform in the truest sense: at the intersection of art and science, it moves past the existing homogenous images of Eastern Europe and offers space for political, societal, and cultural diversity.

In cooperation with the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS)