Barbara Martin, the member of our research group presents her new research project:
This will constitute the first study on the role of the intelligentsia in the Russian Orthodox religious and national awakening of the late Soviet era. Spanning the last three decades of the 20th century, this research examines the causes, influences, and impact on post-Soviet religious and political life of this revival, which originated among young Russian intellectuals before spreading to the broader population during Perestroika.
Taking a transnational approach, this study examines the role of such exogenous factors as contacts with Western religious and human rights organizations and with Russian émigré culture, as well as such endogenous factors as cross-fertilization among national and religious movements within the Soviet Union.
While this study argues that the intelligentsia was at the vanguard of the revival and contributed to the formation of a new Russian Orthodox identity, the religious liberalization of the 1980s and 1990s forced the early actors of the revival to reconsider their role and address new challenges, both within the Church and on the political scene.
A central puzzle which this research seeks to solve is the apparent discrepancy between the liberal, ecumenic, and democratic values that were dominant among intellectuals in the first phase of the awakening, and the nationalistic, conservative, and at times openly chauvinistic model that came to be associated with the Russian Orthodox Church in the post-Soviet era.
Based on interviews with actors of the Russian Orthodox revival and their writings, in addition to documentary materials collected by Western organizations assisting Christians in the Soviet bloc, this research will offer a new perspective on the transition process from a Soviet to a post-Soviet identity in Russia.