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Multiple Moralities and Religions in Post-Soviet Russia

Multiple Moralities and Religions in Post-Soviet Russia

Edited By Jarrett Zigon
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 244
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  • Book Info
    Multiple Moralities and Religions in Post-Soviet Russia
    Book Description:

    In the post-Soviet period morality became a debatable concept, open to a multitude of expressions and performances. From Russian Orthodoxy to Islam, from shamanism to Protestantism, religions of various kinds provided some of the first possible alternative moral discourses and practices after the end of the Soviet system. This influence remains strong today. Within the Russian context, religion and morality intersect in such social domains as the relief of social suffering, the interpretation of history, the construction and reconstruction of traditions, individual and social health, and business practices. The influence of religion is also apparent in the way in which the Russian Orthodox Church increasingly acts as the moral voice of the government. The wide-ranging topics in this ethnographically based volume show the broad religious influence on both discursive and everyday moralities. The contributors reveal that although religion is a significant aspect of the various assemblages of morality, much like in other parts of the world, religion inpostsocialistRussia cannot be separated from the political or economic or transnational institutional aspects of morality.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-210-8
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations and Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Part I. Introduction

    • CHAPTER 1 Multiple Moralities: Discourses, Practices, and Breakdowns in Post-Soviet Russia
      (pp. 3-15)
      Jarrett Zigon

      Since the mid 1980s the Russian people have been living through an historically unprecedented period of social and political upheaval and cultural and epistemological questioning—what is often referred to as the post-Soviet transition. This process has been accompanied by, if not partly instigated by, a neoliberal version of globalization that has disrupted the social lives of innumerable peoples around the world. According to James Faubion, globalization has brought about an “increasing intensity of problematization” (2001: 101). The Foucauldian notion of problematization, like Heidegger’s breakdown (Heidegger 1996: 68–69), describes a reflective state in which such everyday unreflected practices and...

    • CHAPTER 2 Exploring Russian Religiosity as a Source of Morality Today
      (pp. 16-24)
      Alexander Agadjanian

      When the Communist Party writers created the “Moral Code of the Builders of Communism,” which became a part of the new party program adopted in 1961, it contained some unmistakable religious connotations. The creation of the “code” coincided with a harsh new wave of the Soviet antireligious campaign. However, the “moral code” could not help not referring, if only latently or mutely, to what it attempted to replace: religious morality. Whatever the design of the writers was, the communist “moral code” seemed to bebothrejecting and retaining some religious meanings.

      There were twelve points in this communist “moral code,”...

  5. Part II. Multiple Moralities

    • CHAPTER 3 Post-Soviet Orthodoxy in the Making: Strategies for Continuity Thinking among Russian Middle-aged School Teachers
      (pp. 27-47)
      Agata Ładykowska

      The aim of this chapter is to illustrate how different local notions of morality are used in order to build a sense of continuity among the middle-aged school teachers with whom I did research, and who have experienced both socio-political and individual ruptures and transformations. One such transformation is conversion to Orthodoxy. Continuity and change have a specific articulation in post-Soviet and post-atheist Russia, which is undergoing what is described as “a religious revival” over the past two decades. The prominent feature of this articulation is the Church’s emphasis on, and people’s subjective view of, an encompassing continuity straddling the...

    • CHAPTER 4 The Politics of Rightness: Social Justice among Russiaʹs Christian Communities
      (pp. 48-66)
      Melissa L. Caldwell

      On 5 December 2008, Aleksei II, patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, passed away at his residence outside Moscow. The news quickly spread via telephone, text message, the Internet, and e-mail. Within hours, several Russian television stations were already broadcasting commentaries and retrospectives of Patriarch Aleksei’s life and career. In both public and private conversations, succession seemed to be the issue of paramount importance and rampant speculation, as observers debated who would assume the role of patriarch and in what direction the new leader would take the church.

      The issue of succession especially concerned Russia’s non-Orthodox Christian community, as clergy...

    • CHAPTER 5 An Ethos of Relatedness: Foreign Aid and Grassroots Charities in Two Orthodox Parishes in North-Western Russia
      (pp. 67-91)
      Detelina Tocheva

      Most often, gifts made in the frame of personal relationships enhance people’s solidarity and engender reciprocal exchange. Gifts made in Christian churches are most usually done with the intention to address God and the saints. This chapter will show that fully anonymous and unreciprocated gifts can also be the manifestation of social relatedness. The second objective of this chapter is to demonstrate that gifts made within churches, and more specifically gifts that can be called “grassroots charities” may completely ignore religious motives. Thus, this chapter explores how Russian Orthodox churches have come to be transformed into an arena of secular...

    • CHAPTER 6 ʺA Lot of Blood Is Unrevenged Hereʺ: Moral Disintegration in Post-War Chechnya
      (pp. 92-118)
      Ieva Raubisko

      Aishat,¹ a seemingly jovial woman nearing sixty who received me warmly at her home in one of the villages in Chechnya, once had eight children: four daughters and four sons. Born in exile in Kazakhstan,² she lost both of her parents by the age of two, spent some time at an orphanage together with her two sisters, was then adopted by her father’s cousin and returned to Chechnya in her late teens. She got married at the age of eighteen and gave birth to her first son, Magomed, soon after.

      Aishat’s eldest son is no more; he was detained, mocked...

    • CHAPTER 7 Morality, Utopia, Discipline: New Religious Movements and Soviet Culture
      (pp. 119-145)
      Alexander A. Panchenko

      Anthropologists and sociologists of religion usually do not recognize the study of morality or ethics as a specific subfield within their fields of research. Morality is thought of as part of the wider system of values or set of practices associated with a religious world view or social order. It might be reasonable, to proceed from this point of view because it is usually not easy to determine the boundary between “moral” and “amoral” forms of religious culture within a specific group or community. However, many parts of religious discourse can be interpreted in terms of morality, and morality may...

    • CHAPTER 8 Constructing Moralities around the Tsarist Family
      (pp. 146-167)
      Kathy Rousselet

      In the early 1990s the Russian Orthodox Church was reproached for its lack of morality during the Soviet period and its appeasement of Soviet power. Fifteen years later, this aspect of the Church’s history is no longer mentioned. On the contrary, more and more martyrs who were killed in the early years of the Bolshevik regime, and who managed to maintain their faith at the time of the Great Terror, are being discovered and canonized. The last Tsar himself and his family were glorified. These canonizations, which were one of the conditions for reconciliation with the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad,¹...

    • CHAPTER 9 St. Xenia as a Patron of Female Social Suffering: An Essay on Anthropological Hagiology
      (pp. 168-190)
      Jeanne Kormina and Sergey Shtyrkov

      The first post-Soviet canonization took place during perestroika, a period of very fast and dramatic transition in the Soviet political and ideological system. This was the very beginning of religious revivalism in Russia, which coincided with the 1988 celebration of the 1,000thanniversary of the baptism of Russia.¹ At that time the Moscow Patriarchate realized that Russian Orthodoxy was transforming quickly and drastically from the ideological enemy of Communism into the main guardian of Russian national cultural heritage. The canonization conducted at the 1988 Church Council reflected this transformation very clearly: the Council’s list of new saints started with the...

    • CHAPTER 10 Built with Gold or Tears? Moral Discourses on Church Construction and the Role of Entrepreneurial Donations
      (pp. 191-213)
      Tobias Köllner

      During the socialist period, many of Vladimir’s¹ churches were destroyed, fell into decline, or were used for other purposes, such as radio stations or museums. Today, the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) is the most trusted institution in Russia (Dubin 2006: 84), and there exists a general tendency to restore former church buildings and to erect new ones in places where churches had been before the 1917 Russian Revolution. Although most people favor returning the former church buildings to the ROC, some voice reservations due to the fact that good museums will vanish, and that the newly established churches will be...

  6. AFTERWORD Multiple Moralities, Multiple Secularisms
    (pp. 214-225)
    Catherine Wanner

    The close analysis of the role of religion in all its guises in fostering certain moral concepts in Russia has much to offer to the study of morality in other societies. Many patterns that are visible in these portraits of constituting communities and recrafting moralities in Russia are widely applicable elsewhere. In nearly all socialist or formerly socialist societies calls for moral renewal can be heard. Such calls are issued as a means to inspire self-transformation as well as social transformation. In the early 1990s, the conventional wisdom of many in the region was that they had fallen into a...

  7. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 226-228)
  8. Index
    (pp. 229-238)