MOE AcFR Tier 1 Grant: Catholic Talk, Social Dreaming: Civil Society Discourse in Ukraine and Hong Kong

I have some great news.

My colleague Halyna Herasym (Ukrainian Catholic University) and I have been awarded the Singapore Ministry of Education’s Academic Research Fund Tier 1 Grant for our project on Catholic Talk, Social Dreaming: Civil Society Discourse in Ukraine and Hong Kong. It’s our internal research grant awarded by my home institution, Singapore Management University, to seed new research, and we are very grateful to our colleagues for their vote of confidence.

Our project takes as its starting point the recent social movements that began in Ukraine and Hong in 2013-4. Observing the involvement of clergy in both the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church and the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong in the Euromaidan and Umbrella Movement protests, we began to wonder how what we call ‘Catholic talk’ might have been used by activists who might not be Catholic themselves — indeed, who are just part of secular civil society — to describe their aspirations. In this way, secular ‘social dreaming’ for societies run by rule of law, democratic governance, human rights, and so on might be informed by the discourses, say, of Catholic social teaching of a variety of registers. These social dreams in both places have gone on into the present, which is why they continue to be relevant now.

Once we’ve filed the required ethics forms at my institution, we’re interested in talking to two groups of people. We want to talk to priests in the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church and the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong about how Catholic social engagement fed into these movements and their ongoing development. We also want to people who were involved in these movements in ways that that activated these social dreams without coinciding with a private organization or political party’s aims. We’ll also gather an archive of audiovisual materials from both church and secular society.

We’re really excited about this upcoming project and hope to get started on it soon. We’re also really thankful to the colleagues who recommended us to receive the grant, to Singapore Management University for granting us the money, and to the Ministry of Education for their investment in our autonomous universities. More soon!