prof. dr. Katya Tolstoj

prof. dr.


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Personal profile

Personal information

Katya Tolstaya (official name: Tolstoj) is Chair of Theology and Religion in Post-Trauma Societies and Founding Director of the Institute for the Academic Study of Eastern Christianity (INaSEC) at FRT of the Vrije Universiteit, as well as Founding President of the International Association for Post-Soviet Theology and Study of Religion (PAST). Her main interest in research and valorisations is to establish the new field of an interdisciplinary and interreligious post-Soviet theology, within the interdisciplinary landscape/scope of post-traumatic, post-totalitarian and post-genocidal studies. Her project Theology after Gulag is the first phase of this endeavour. Tolstaya has created a global network to support her in this ambition. Tolstaya obtained her MA (cum laude, 2000) and her PhD (cum laude, 2006) both at the Protestant Theological University (PThU), Kampen, The Netherlands.

Tolstaya is successful in fundraising and was, for example, laureate of a prestigious NWO VENI Talent Scheme Innovational Research Incentives Humanities (2009-2012). As a Visiting Professor, she teaches in different post-Soviet countries, e.g. at Lev N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University, Astana, Kazakhstan, and at the Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv, Ukraine. She was Visiting Researcher at the Karl Barth-Archiv, Basel (2009) and recently Visiting Fellow at Aleksanteri Institute, Finnish Centre of Excellence in Russian Studies, University of Helsinki (May-July 2017).


Tolstaya’s initial research was dedicated to Western systematic theology, a.o. Barth and early dialectical theology, and literary studies, a.o. Dostoevsky and Bakhtin. For over a decade Tolstaya’s research focuses on the post-Soviet religious revival and the role of theology in public and societal engagement with the past. To promote the research field of post-Soviet theology she has established four international research networks: the project “Theology after Gulag” within INaSEC; a research group “Theology after Gulag” in the Netherlands School for Advanced Study of Theology and Religion (NOSTER); an NWO-Internationalisation in the Humanities network on the Russian Orthodox Church (2015-2018); and an interdisciplinary Working Group at the European Academy of Religion on "Negotiating the Soviet Past" (2018 - ). These projects engage over twenty academic, ecclesial and cultural institutions, and NGO’s, and over 100 committed international scholars and stakeholders working in post-Soviet studies, post-Holocaust theology, transitional justice, Gulag studies and further related fields who support her call for a rethinking of methodological and theoretical issues in the study of post-Soviet religion and theology. With her INaSEC-team Tolstaya devotes herself to a broad valorisation program, varying from (inter)national conferences and public lectures to exhibitions. 
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Prof Tolstaya has a passion for teaching. Her teaching covers post-traumatic, post-totalitarian and post-genocide theology, methodology in the study of religion, Christian systematic theology, academic skills, reading Classics in Theology and Religion, and religious topics in literature. Currently, she is the coordinator of all talent-related tracks at FRT: Honours Programme, Research Master, NWO PhD’s in Humanities class, and Research Design Graduate School.

Ancillary activities

No ancillary activities

Ancillary activities are updated daily

Ancillary activities

Member Scientific Advisory Board, Netherlands Institute in Saint Petersburg (NIP)

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Research Output

‘Orthodox Kaleidoscope: Introduction’

Tolstaja, K., 2020, (Accepted/In press) In : Religion, State and Society. 48, 2

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Religion or Ideology?

Tolstaja, K., 30 Nov 2018

Research output: Online publication or Non-textual formOnline publication or WebsiteProfessional

Общее прошлое как основа для переосмысления теологии

Translated title of the contribution: Shared Past as the Ground for Rethinking TheologyTolstaja, K., 2018, (Accepted/In press) Диалог религий в современном мире: проблемы и перспективы 2. Материалы. Kolosova, I. & Tolstoj, E. V. (eds.). Moscow: Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Vol. 2.

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


Religion, State and Society (Journal)

E.V. Tolstoj (Guest editor)

Activity: Peer review and Editorial workEditorial workAcademic

Working group at the European Academy of Religion Annual Conference

E.V. Tolstoj (Organiser), M. Napolitano (Organiser)
6 Mar 20197 Mar 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventConferenceAcademic

Gulag Legacy

E.V. Tolstoj (Organiser)
8 Jun 20189 Jun 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventConferenceAcademic

Press / Media

Video Registration International Conference 'Gulag Legacy', Hermitage Amsterdam

E.V. Tolstoj


1 Media contribution

Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities

E.V. Tolstoj, Introduction to international conference 'Gulag Legacy', 8 June 2018

E.V. Tolstoj


1 Media contribution

Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities

Interview Stentor (Anton Goegebeur)

E.V. Tolstoj


1 Media contribution

Press/Media: Other