Anna Grzymala-Busse, University of Michigan professor of political science and newly-appointed Ronald and Eileen Weiser Professor of European and Eurasian Studies, will deliver her inaugural lecture on December 2 as part of the Center for European Studies-European Union Center’s Conversations on Europe series. Professor Grzymala-Busse has directed the Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia (WCEE) and the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies (WCED) since July. As director of WCEE and WCED, she has been conducting a graduate student workshop on emerging democracies and developing the WCED speaker series. In April 2011, she will convene a WCED conference titled “How Autocracies Work: Beyond the Electoral Paradigm.”

In her lecture on December 2, “The Sacralization of Politics in Europe and Beyond,” Grzymala-Busse will examine how churches influence politics, and why some have been so successful in framing policy debates and shaping policy outcomes. Familiar examples include abortion in Poland, stem cell research in Italy, and the teaching of evolution in the United States. In other countries, such as Croatia or Canada, churches have had much less impact on even the most sensitive areas of public policy. These differences persist even if we take into account levels of popular religious belief and practice, so that equally religious societies can produce very different public policy outcomes. In explaining these patterns, this talk will argue that the churches’ historical role in establishing the nation led both to claims of moral authority and to the diffidence of contemporary political elites to the churches.

A graduate of Princeton (A.B.), Cambridge (M.Phil.), and Harvard (Ph.D.) Universities, Grzymala-Busse joined the U-M Department of Political Science in 2005. Her principal interests include political parties and political competition, state development and transformation, and post-communist politics. She has written numerous articles and chapters in edited volumes and is the author of Rebuilding Leviathan: Party Competition and State Exploitation in Post-Communist Democracies (Cambridge, 2007), and Redeeming the Communist Past: The Regeneration of the Communist Successor Parties in East Central Europe (Cambridge, 2002). Grzymala-Busse's 2000 doctoral dissertation won the Gabriel Almond Award for Best Dissertation in Comparative Politics from the American Political Science Association. Rebuilding Leviathan, an analysis of how post-communist political parties rebuilt the state and how strong political competition limited the corrupt behavior and abuse of state resources by opportunistic political parties, received the 2008 Ed A. Hewett Prize for Best Publication on the Political Economy of the Former Soviet Union and East Central Europe.

PLACE: 1636 International Institute, 1080 S. University Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

SPONSORS: College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; Center for European Studies-European Union Center; Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies; Department of Political Science; and Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies


The Ronald and Eileen Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia (WCEE) supports faculty and student research, teaching, collaboration, and public engagement in studying the institutions, cultures, and histories of these regions. WCEE is housed in the University of Michigan International Institute with the Center for European Studies-European Union Center (CES-EUC); the Center for Russian, East European, & Eurasian Studies  (CREES); and the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies (WCED). Named in honor of Ronald and Eileen Weiser and inspired by their time in Slovakia during Ambassador Weiser’s service as U.S. ambassador from 2001-04, WCEE began operations in September 2008. For more information, visit