Religion and Power Between Empires and Publics

The Case of the Greek Catholic/Uniate Church
Seminars and Colloquia

In the 19th century, the Greek Catholic/Uniate Church, an Eastern rite Catholic Church on the territory of modern-day Ukraine, Belarus, and Poland, served as a proving ground for evolving approaches to negotiating religion within states and between them. Straddling a political border between the Habsburg and Russian empires and a confessional boundary between Catholicism and Orthodoxy, the church became a major object of the ambitions and anxieties of empires and their subjects. The project explores two main questions: How did the role of religion change over the course of the 19th century with regards to imperial governance and international politics? And how did these changes shape the ways power was exercised in those same two arenas? The case of the Greek Catholic/Uniate Church helps us to trace confession’s evolution as a crucial element in the logic of empire, as well as how policies of coercion came to be complemented by tools of attraction given the growing range of actors with domestic and international political influence and power.


Katherine Younger is the Research Director of IWM’s program Ukraine in European Dialogue. Currently she is working on a book manuscript based on her dissertation, “Contested Confession: The Greek Catholic/Uniate Church in 19th Century European Politics.”

Laura Engelstein is Henry S. McNeil Professor Emerita of Russian History at Yale University. From September to December 2019 she was a Visiting Fellow at the IWM.