The Czech Republic is widely known as 'the least religious' country in the world. However, Czechs might be considered unchurched rather than nonreligious, with various forms of modern New Age spirituality steadily gaining in popularity. The question is, therefore, what is the position of religion - both 'traditional' and 'new' - within a 'non-believing' society? The article commences with a presentation of data taken from two recent sociological surveys on religion, but the author mainly exploits ethnographical research carried out in the medium-sized Czech town of Česká Lípa to address the issue. This research examined both 'old' and 'new' church religion, 'alternative' spiritual outlets, and the religious attitudes of the general population. The author concludes that the traditional religionists of various denominations, followers of the New Age movement(s), and the 'rest' of the population can be seen as three distinctive groups within society and that mutual understanding and acceptance are practically non-existent.
Zdeněk R. Nešpor
Complex intersections of the public and the private in the South Bohemian countryside
This article discusses notions of "public" and "private" in the postsocialist Czech Republic through a comparative examination of food practices in families and in the canteen of an agricultural cooperative in South Bohemia. Different meanings of public and private will be outlined, making up a complex set of referential contexts for the interaction between canteen personnel and customers. Analysis of daily life in the canteen revealed that the personnel tended to personalize customer relations. It is argued that this inclination cannot be explained first and foremost as the influence of market-oriented postsocialist public debates on public-private relations. The canteen is a key provider of services to the community but is not run according to market principles or driven by the logic of profit. Its friendly atmosphere is predicated on the moral practice and personal skills of its employees and is embedded in local cultures of food sharing. By exploring daily practice and interaction in the canteen, the article critically examines implications for the feminist concept of emotional labor that have emerged in studies on capitalist, profit-driven enterprises.
Against State Failure or the State Itself?
Although the Czech Republic (CR) is not a favorite destination nor even a transit country for migrants through Europe, the refugee crisis has materialized into a strict state policy of rejection. The CR rejects proposals for European solutions and detains and imprisons immigrants, most of whom are inadvertently arrived there. This preliminary refusal strategy is peculiar to both the political and media spheres (and public opinion) and is described in the opening sections of this work. However, the CR, is also a country in which the tally of immigrants is less than the number of Czechs citizens traveling beyond their national borders to help refugees congregating along the “Balkan Route”, where they frequently outnumber volunteers from other countries. This paper goes on to describe the development of these grassroots Czech volunteer organizations and activities in 2015. From the beginning it was characterized by spontaneity and a lack of hierarchy, with the Internet and social media playing a vital role during mobilization and organization. The methodological section defines how this sample was analyzed and the manner in which it was dealt. Section five summarizes the most important findings of the case study: (1) the results of a questionnaire survey among volunteers, (2) the results of a qualitative content analysis of their communication in social networks. Besides basic mapping steps (features of volunteer’s participation), the analysis attempts to capture motivations for volunteer’s participation. Comparison with selected motivation typologies emphasizes the protective (later the normative) motivation, on which the hypotheses are based regarding the dispute about the national identity of volunteering as an ideological, and therefore foreseeable, dispute.
Forum 2000, Prague Castle, Spanish Hall, 4 September 1997
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to welcome you all very cordially to the Czech Republic, to Prague and Prague Castle. Thank you for accepting the invitation to the Forum 2000 conference – which is being held here and has been made possible especially thanks to the foundations sponsoring and organising it.
Attila Tóth, Barbora Duží, Jan Vávra, Ján Supuka, Mária Bihuňová, Denisa Halajová, Stanislav Martinát, and Eva Nováková
to extend the state of the art in European urban gardening by providing an in-depth, descriptive account of historical and recent developments of allotment gardening in the Czech Republic and Slovakia as representative samples of Central European
Local populations in Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, and to a lesser degree in the Czech Republic, experienced much interaction with Muslims throughout the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when the Ottomans, as well as the Crimean Tatars, invaded the Kingdom of Hungary and waged wars against the Polish-Lithuanian state and the Habsburg Hereditary Lands. The Ottoman era has usually been reflected in the history textbooks of these four countries under the headings "Turkish Wars" or "Ottoman Expansion." Since the collapse of the Iron Curtain in 1989, all four ex-communist states have been involved in rewriting textbooks, although the perception of the Ottomans and Muslims has not changed in all cases. Without claiming to map the entire historical presentation of the Ottomans, this article demonstrates the polyphony found in the textbooks of this region. By analyzing secondary school educational materials in all four languages, it is possible to identify stereotypes, prejudices, and distortions within the perception of the Ottoman Turks.
Czech heritage management at the former Liechtenstein estate of Lednice-Valtice
Veronica E. Aplenc
The Lednice-Valtice area, Southern Moravia, represents over 220 square kilometers of vast architectural and landscape heritage. As the former Liechtenstein ducal seat nationalized in 1945 and a major tourist attraction throughout the twentieth century, this site embodies the complex issues of heritage and authenticity. Post-war Czech preservationists incorporated pre-socialist legislative systems and beliefs into their socialist-era professional praxis, in a striking use of Habsburg-era, modernist cultural capital. Central to this borrowing was preservationists' casting themselves as state-legislated experts in heritage management, using an almost exclusively aesthetics-focused presentation in messy ideological situations.
Twenty years after the end of communist rule in Czechoslovakia, numerous public and private acts of remembrance both hail the end of state socialism and rally Czech society to be on guard against its possible return. This article compares three sets of remembrances-official commemorations sponsored by the state and/or private corporations, activists' alternative memory acts, and personal accounts of Czech citizens-to reveal how each of these give voice to fears and anxieties over the possibilities of “forgetting“ communism. Promoting a vision of the nation as united in ensuring that the future remains “communist-free“, widespread concerns over social amnesia and civic apathy become, I argue, a means of bonding citizens together and to the state. What, however, exactly characterizes a “noncommunist“ society is left necessarily ambiguous.
Narratives of hope, loss, and "normality" across two generations of Czechs
Framed by questions concerning the normal biography and its distortion in late modernity, this article examines the biographical narratives of two different generations of Czechs. Through a parallel analysis of retrospective and future-oriented imaginations of life, the article explores the extent to which the two generations' narratives are structured along the expectations implicated in the normal biography and the kinds of disturbances to the “normal“ pattern that surface in these accounts. Moreover, it explores intergenerational dynamics by examining the narratives' generational tropes and the level of generational reflexivity they display. I argue that while their key tropes of narration have changed substantially, people of both generations share an adherence to the normal biography as well as a lack of interest in placing their own biography in relation to the history of the nation.
Volunteering and Civil Society in Czech Health Care
This article examines how boundaries of the state are negotiated and projected in Czech health care volunteering. Hospital regimes and the professional care provided by doctors and nurses are widely imagined as a domain of intensified state authority, a legacy of state socialism. I explore attempts by NGO actors, hospitals, and local government officials involved in three Czech volunteer programs to create alternative, non-medicalized forms of patient care as civil society, thereby reproducing the boundary between state and non-state that characterized civil society discourses of the 1990s in the region. Yet unlike those discourses and the anthropological analyses they have informed, this process of boundary making does not constitute the state and civil society as inevitably antagonistic or competitive entities.