Hrodna: Vibrant and Religious

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The Lutheran church in Hrodna, vul. Akademicka

“Hrodna is predominantly a Catholic city, maybe 78% per cent of people are Catholics here, there are a few Orthodox, and a few Pentecostals too”, I hear from a Hrodna-born young man, Siarhey.

In the past Hrodna (Grodno) was very diverse religiously and that still remains. I managed to spot a few Catholic and Orthodox churches, a Lutheran kirche and a synagogue. “My great grandfather told me that in the past in Hrodna there were no Catholics, no Orthodox, and all attended the Protestant church”, Siarhey adds.

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Bi-Belarus

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Source: cafepress.com

For a researcher like myself Belarus is definitely a unique country. It has two official languages, Belarusian and Russian. However, the latter one enjoys the privileged position. It also has also two flags, the red-and-green official one,  and the other, red-white-red recognised by the political opposition.

Yes, divisions may appear in every society. They mean rather a normal thing – people differ, therefore, their world views differ, too.

However, it seems that political views often determine what, when and with whom to celebrate even the beginnings of the Belarusian statehood. That can be either on 25 March, 7 July or 27 July. We could go on and on.

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Religion and Language

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The writing on the shop display at the Minsk airport, “The native tongue”

So here I am in Belarus, a country with two official languages – Belarusian and Russian. The latter one remains, however, lingua franca. It is the language of almost all spheres of public life, including media, politics, and education. Belarusian remains largely marginalised.

I have written more about it here.

Yet, this linguistic complexity is interesting from my research point of view.
Why certain groups of people decide to express themselves in Belarusian, not in Russian? Why in Russian only? Why solely in Belarusian? Should I pay attention to those choices  or are they rather random? Do they necessary carry a political meaning?

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God Is Back In Belarus

Unexpected religious revival in the post-Soviet space?

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Collective prayer of Evangelical Christians in Minsk, 2007. Source: nn.by

In the 1990s, the former Soviet republics found themselves in completely new social realities. Interestingly, despite the decades of atheization, some sort of religious revival took place throughout the whole post-Soviet space.

Millions of Homo Sovieticus type were seeking God. There are different explanations for this phenomenon.

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Getting to Belarus

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The good news is that I got ethics approval from King’s College for my PhD research. Visa, health insurance obtained and tickets purchased. “Now it is time to start my pilot study in Belarus!”, I thought enthusiastically.

The travel itinerary of my trip was simple: Bialystok – Chopin airport in Warsaw by bus and then Warsaw-Minsk by plane.

Unfortunately, a few hours later it turned out that I missed the flight due to visa issues – and that has utterly complicated my further trip to Minsk. Had to change it diametrically the same day.

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World Press Photo 2013 w mińskim Cechu

cechKilka dni temu byłam na wystawie w Mińsku – World Press Photo 2013, jaka odbyła się w klubokawiarni Cech.

World Press Photo to wystawa najlepszych prasowych fotografii ze świata. W tym roku nagrodzono 54 fotografów z 33 państw.

Niektóre zdjęcia rzeczywiście były wyjątkowe i nie sposób było przejść obok nich obojętnie. Wśród fotografii można znaleźć także polski ślad – fotografie dwóch autorek –  Ilony Szwarc oraz Anny Bedyńskiej.

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Mowa Ciekawa, czyli o tym jak w Mińsku uczą języka białoruskiego

WP_20131229_008Wczoraj byłam z moimi znajomymi z BelarusDigest w kultowym bufecie w Centralnym universamie w Minsku.

Rozmawialiśmy, zamówiliśmy piwo i kwas, i w pewnym momencie podszedl do mnie młody Białorusin. Zapytał dlaczego rozmawiam po białorusku. Totalnie zaskoczona odpowiedziałam mu, że jestem w Białorusi i dlatego mówię po białorusku. Na co on kontynuuje, że on również  jest w Białorusi, ale rozmawia po rosyjsku. Chłopiec nie odpuszczał, ale przeszedłszy już na język białoruski, wciąż dopytywał.

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