In the early 1990s, the Polish city of Przemysl became known for the tensions existing between Roman Catholic Poles and Greek Catholic Ukrainians. These tensions derived from the indivisible links between nationalism, religion, and politics in southeast Poland. This article analyses how they are tied up in political rituals. The first two rites analysed commemorate the sufferings during the war, and by politicising collective memory they strengthen the sense of mutual antagonism between religious-national groups. The author's key argument is that given the important role religious identification plays in the individual's relationship to the nation, religion is becoming a crucial factor in any form of political change. The author also presents an example of reconciliation and how it is applied to collective memory on the basis of a multinational tradition in a third political ritual. In this case two religious-national groups share a 'multicultural' heritage, derived from their understanding of sharing a common tradition, from the majority's acceptance of the minority, and from the religious experience of reconciliation. Political change in either direction, that is, whether amidst the mobilisation of differences or the promotion of tolerant co-existence, proceeds through rituals, symbolic gestures, and narratives, in which religion and religious experts occupy a dominant or at least secondary role, and this has an effect on how tolerant a society emerges in the region.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.