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NCGS Seminar • Operation Velehrad, 1950: Communism, Catholicism, and Popular Tradition in Czechoslovakia

January 26 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

During the period of greatest repression of the Catholic Church in Stalinist Czechoslovakia, Communist leaders organized and promoted an official manifestation at Velehrad, which since the mid-nineteenth century had come to represent a Moravian Catholic vision of Czech nationhood that both emphasized popular piety and rural tradition, and connected a peripheral region to the broader Slavic and Christian world. By co-opting a symbol of local, national, and international significance, Communist activists attempted to shift the loyalties of lay believers and rank-and-file priests away from the Catholic hierarchy and toward the new regime and its allies in the Soviet bloc. Operation Velehrad—as local activists dubbed the state-sponsored pilgrimage—reveals the persistence of a little-researched regional tradition of Czech Catholic politics and highlights the rhetorical and ideological flexibility of the Czechoslovak Communist regime during its early years. Follow the link to attend the zoom seminar.

MIRA MARKHAM is a graduate student in history at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Her dissertation, “Power in the Village: Rural Political Life in Czechoslovakia, 1944-1954,” examines how ordinary people in the region of Moravian Wallachia engaged with state power as both modern citizens and members of traditional rural communities during the decade of political transition following the Second World War. Her article “Světlana: Partisans and Power in Post-War Czechoslovakia” was published in the journal Contemporary European History in 2021.


KAREN HAGEMANN ( James G. Kenan Distinguished Professor of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of History)


JAMES CHAPPEL (Gilhuly Family Associate Professor, Duke University, Department of History)


PIOTR H. KOSICKI (Associate Professor, University of Maryland, Department of History) and KYRILL KUNAKHOVICH (Assistant Professor, University of VirginiaCorcoran Department of History)



January 26
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
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On Zoom