Religion, Religious Tradition, and Nationalism: Jewish Revival in Poland and “Religious Heritage” in Québec


  • Acknowledgments: Research for this article was generously funded by faculty grants from the University of Michigan's Office of the Vice President for Research, the University of Michigan's Rackham Graduate School, and the University of Michigan's College of Literature, Science and the Arts, as well as from the American Sociological Association's Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline. I’m grateful to Elizabeth Young for her research assistance on the Québec case. Thanks to the participants in the symposium honoring the scholarship of Martin Riesebrodt at the University of Chicago's Divinity School in January 2011 and especially to Malika Zeghal, Bruce Lincoln, and Wendy Doniger. Finally, I’m especially thankful to Mary Ellen Konieczny, Kelly Chong, Loren Lyberger, and Paul Johnson for their incisive and constructive comments on earlier drafts.

  • Geneviève Zubrzycki, Department of Sociology, University of Michigan, 500 South State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.


This article uses and develops Martin Riesebrodt's distinction between religion and religious tradition to shed light on the making of various articulations of religious identities and political projects. Based on extensive research on the Polish and Québécois cases, I show how social and state actors in these societies reactivate past religious traditions to respond to current social transformations and articulate societal projects and advance political agendas in the present. In both cases, religion and religious tradition are juxtaposed to articulate new national identities or fortify older ones, and to respond more specifically to the challenges posed by “pluralism.” I suggest that sociologists who work at the intersection of religion and politics can contribute to our understanding of the various registers through which religion, religious action, and religious tradition are rendered meaningful to social actors, used for different goals (religious and not) and transformed in the process.