Posts Tagged ‘Eastern Orthodoxy’

Krawchuk and Bremer (eds), “Eastern Orthodox Encounters”

February 18, 2014

Krawchuk, Andrii, and Thomas Bremer, eds.  2014.  Eastern Orthodox Encounters of Identity and Otherness: Values, Self-Reflection, Dialogue.  New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Publisher’s Description: From diverse international and multi-disciplinary perspectives, the contributors to this volume analyze the experiences, challenges and responses of Orthodox churches to the foundational transformations associated with the dissolution of the USSR. Those transformations heightened the urgency of questions about Orthodox identity and relations with the world – states, societies, and the religious and cultural other.

The volume focuses on six distinct concepts: Orthodox identity, perceptions of the ‘other,’ critiques of the West, European values, interreligious progress, and new and uncharted challenges that have arisen with the expansion of Russian Orthodox activity.

Contents:

Introduction; Andrii Krawchuk
PART I: THE ECCLESIAL SELF: TRADITIONAL IDENTITIES AND THE CHALLENGES OF PLURALISM
1. Russian Orthodoxy between State and Nation; Jennifer Wasmuth
2. Morality and Patriotism: Continuity and Change in Russian Orthodox Occidentalism since the Soviet Era; Alfons Brüning
3. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church at the Crossroads: Between Nationalism and Pluralism; Daniela Kalkandjieva
4. The Search for a new Church Consciousness in current Russian Orthodox Discourse; Anna Briskina-Müller
PART II: PERCEPTIONS OF THE RELIGIOUS OTHER: DIFFERENCE AND CONVERGENCE
5. Between Admiration and Refusal – Roman Catholic Perceptions of Orthodoxy; Thomas Bremer
6. Apostolic Continuity in Contradiction to Liberalism? Fields of Tension between Churches in the East and the West; Dagmar Heller
7. The Image of the Roman-Catholic Church in the Orthodox Press of Romania, 1918-1940; Ciprian Ghișa
8. ‘Oh, East is East, and West is West…:’ The Character of Orthodox – Greek-Catholic Discourse in Ukraine and its Regional Dimensions; Natalia Kochan
PART III: ORTHODOX CRITIQUES OF THE WEST
9. ‘The Barbarian West’: A Form of Orthodox Christian Anti-Western Critique; Vasilios N. Makrides
10. Anti-western Theology in Greece and Serbia Today; Julia Anna Lis
11. The Russian Orthodox Church on the Values of Modern Society; Regina Elsner
PART IV: ENCOUNTERS WITH EUROPEAN VALUES
12. Eastern Orthodoxy and the Processes of European Integration; Tina Olteanu and Dorothée de Nève
13. The Russian Orthodox Church’s Interpretation of European Legal Values (1990-2011); Mikhail Zherebyatyev
14. The Russian Orthodox Church in a new Situation in Russia: Challenges and Responses; Olga Kazmina
PART V: PROSPECTS FOR RELIGIOUS ENCOUNTER, CONSENSUS AND COOPERATION
15. Neopatristic Synthesis and Ecumenism: Toward the ‘Reintegration’ of Christian Tradition; Matthew Baker
16. Justification in the Theological Conversations Between Representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Protestant Churches in Germany; Christoph Mühl
17. Constructing Interreligious Consensus in the Post-Soviet Space: the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations; Andrii Krawchuk
PART VI: EMERGING ENCOUNTERS AND NEW CHALLENGES IN POST-SOVIET CENTRAL ASIA
18. Muslim-Orthodox Relations in Russia: Contextual Readings of A Common Word ; Andrii Krawchuk
19. Radical Islam in the Ferghana Valley; Galina M. Yemelianova

20. Uzbek Islamic Extremists in the Civil Wars of Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan: From Radical Islamic Awakening in the Ferghana Valley to Terrorism with Islamic Vocabulary in Waziristan; Michael Fredholm

Bakker, “Fragments of a Liturgical World”

August 27, 2013

Bakker, Sarah. 2013. Fragments of a Liturgical World: Syriac Christianity and the Dutch Multicultural Debates. Doctoral Dissertation, Dept. of Anthropology. Santa Cruz, CA: University of California-Santa Cruz.

Abstract: This dissertation explores the reconfiguration of Syriac Orthodox liturgical tradition among Aramaic-speaking Christian refugees in the Netherlands. Under the pressures of Dutch integration policy and the global politics of secular recognition, the Syriac liturgy is rapidly losing its significance as the central axis of social life and kinship-relations in the Syriac Orthodox diaspora. As such, it has become a site for debate over how to be religiously, culturally, and ethnically distinct despite the narrative binary of Christian Europe and the Muslim Middle East that dominates Dutch multiculturalism discourse. Every week, young Syriac Orthodox women and men congregate at their churches to practice singing the liturgy in classical Syriac. What they sing, and how they decide to sing it, mediates their experiments in religious and ethical reinvention, with implications for their efforts at political representation. Singers contend not only with conditions of inaudibility produced by histories of ethnic cleansing, migration, and assimilation, but also with the fragments of European Christianity that shape the sensory regime of secular modernity. Public debates over the integration of religious minorities illuminate this condition of fragmentation, as well as the contest over competing conceptions of ethical personhood inherent in the politics of pluralism in Europe.

Rakovic, “In the Haze of the Serbian Orthodoxy”

February 26, 2013

Rakovic, Slavisa. 2012. In the Haze of the Serbian Orthodoxy: ‘Conversion’ to the Ancestral Faith and Falling from the Church: Four Formerly Devout-to-Church Christians Speak. The Anthropology of East Europe Review 30(2).

Abstract: This paper is the result of research into the road towards and the road from institutional Orthodoxy and the experiences of four individuals, mutual acquaintances, who in the 1990s found “refuge in a search for meaning of life” in the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC). However, towards the end of the 2000s, they decided to abandon institutionalized religion and to move from the so-called theological-ecclesiastic model of Christian religiosity to an alternative model which negotiates between Christianity as doctrine and non-religious life-styles and “life philosophies”, as they are colloquially termed. Once torn between the conservativeness of institutional Orthodoxy and the modernity of their social environment (friendship groups, networks of people with similar interests, etc.), the four former members of the SOC declare that the SOC today is a community that has problems integrating cosmopolitan worldviews and is incapable of dealing with modernity and the diversity of contemporary society.

Galal, “Coptic Christian practices”

March 19, 2012

Galal, Lise Paulsen. 2012. Coptic Christian practices: formations of sameness and difference. Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations. 23(1):45-58.

Abstract: Phrases such as ‘the only difference is one of faith’ construct Copts and Muslims in Egypt as, although different, mainly the same as each other. Similar constructions of sameness are also dominant in historical and current Egyptian narratives on national unity. However, as a result of the privileging of sameness and the underplaying of differences, the interaction between narratives of sameness and difference has been left unexplored and partly ignored, not only by national movements, but also by research. Thus, the main issue examined in this article is how current Orthodox Christian practices in Egypt take shape under the influence of hegemonic narratives of sameness and difference. Supported by data collected from ethnographic fieldwork carried out in Egypt, the argument is that the Copts, by positioning themselves as Christians in specific locations and situations, are mediating the antithetical potentialities of being the same as or different from the national Muslim majority. In other words, Christianity not only makes a difference as a sign of the Copts’ minority position, but also simultaneously offers Copts a way out of their marginal position as a minority.

Ładykowska, “The Role of Religious Higher Education in the Training of Teachers of Russian ‘Orthodox Culture’ “

March 4, 2012

Ładykowska. Agata (2012) “The Role of Religious Higher Education in the Training of Teachers of Russian ‘Orthodox Culture’ ” European Journal of Education [Special Issue: Russian Higher Education and the Post-Soviet Transition] 47(1):92-103

Abstract: This article provides an ethnographic account of the tensions arising from the different ways of building authority as teachers and the role of higher education in establishing teachers’ legitimacy in Russia through the specific example of religious education. After state atheism was abandoned in 1991, an unprecedented demand for religious knowledge appeared in Russia, in particular in relation to Russian Orthodoxy. Since the Russian context of Orthodox education lacks shared standards, there is considerable latitude in the criteria determining norms and rules. Seeking to increase its influence, the Russian Orthodox Church aspires to have Orthodox catechism taught in a systematic way both in parishes and in secular schools. In practice, the Church is encouraging professional pedagogues to submit their curriculum proposals that would be suffused with Orthodoxy and at the same time be eligible for adoption in all settings and institutions. Thus, in order to educate teachers of religion, the Church has made available multiple, diverse sources of religious knowledge (self-learning, various courses offered by the eparchies, Spiritual Academies, and other institutions of higher education). But the legitimacy of these sources is often questioned, for instance by asking whether the institution that delivers diplomas of religious higher education has been granted formal state recognition. The teachers’ quest for being acknowledged as competent technicians of religious education leads to competing claims for the authenticity of the sources of their training.

Hann, “Personhood, Christianity, Modernity”

January 15, 2012

Hann, Chris (2012) “Personhood, Christianity, Modernity.” Anthropology of this Century 1(3) [No pagination – Electronic Edition].

Excerpt: In this essay I question widely held assumptions that the emergence of the individualist blob is connected with particular currents of Christianity and, more generally, the invocation of religious ideas to explain changes in societal organization. This is tangential to Bloch’s agenda, but I shall return at the end to his concern with personhood. The assumptions I critique are so widespread that they can be taken for granted by the readership of a new internet journal in anthropology. Mauss himself explicitly invoked the Protestant sects in support of his evolutionist argument linking individualism to modernity. True, some anthropologists have countered these notions. Meyer Fortes and many others reported rich inner states among non-Europeans who had not yet been exposed to Christian missionizing. Not everyone was convinced by Alan Macfarlane’s efforts to locate the origins of individualism in England, or by Louis Dumont’s contrasting of the hierarchies of South Asia with the egalitarian individualism of modern Europe. But these writings have been highly influential, as has Marilyn Strathern’s opposition between the Euro-American individual and the “dividual” of Melanesia. In their very different ways, all these scholars tell stories of Western exceptionalism. Bloch avoids a black and white categorization, but he does not tell us how the statistical difference came about. Is the number of diachronics in Madagascar and elsewhere expanding more rapidly than the global population of episodics? Can we identify tipping points? Is this the Rubicon beyond which we find Bloch’s own version of modernity?

It is widely acknowledged that anthropology was for a long time insufficiently reflexive concerning its own origins in Western social thought and, behind this, in specific currents of Christianity. Much of the discussion has focused on the notion of “belief” (Asad 1993; Cannell 2005; cf. Needham 1972). This essay, too, is concerned to probe long histories of Western bias, including distortions in anthropological work on Christianity itself. I focus on Max Weber rather than Mauss because his contributions have been so massively influential for the whole of Western social science. After giving examples of the shadows he casts in contemporary anthropology, I proceed to note recent criticisms and extensions of Weber’s argument with respect to Catholicism. Protestantism and Catholicism are the largest Christian communities worldwide, and it is therefore not surprising that they have dominated studies of Christianity by socio-cultural anthropologists. Large “Eastern” communities have been neglected. They complicate the familiar models: neither “other” in the sense of a Naturvolk, nor “at home in the West” as we have come to define it. I shall take some examples from the burgeoning literature on Eastern Orthodox traditions with these larger issues in mind. Is there a distinctive Eastern Christian person, corresponding to a unique Orthodox culture or civilization – or modernity?

Making good the deficits in studies of Eastern and Oriental Christians is more than a matter of filling gaps in the ethnographic record. The work now getting under way i) exposes distortions in the large corpus of work on Western Christianity; ii) raises more general issues of theory and method in the study of religion; iii) bears directly on larger debates concerning the interplay between ideas and material transformations in longue durée history. My conclusion is that anthropologists should be wary of all attempts to explain a “breakthrough to modernity” in terms of personhood and theologies, whether those of Protestantism or of earlier Axial Age civilizations. The comparative Weberian agenda remains endlessly fascinating; it can perhaps be freed of its most Eurocentric premises and its idealism; but causalities are complex and in future research it may prove advantageous to pay more attention to the ways in which the emergence of churches and sects, asceticism and mysticism, and our notions of interiorized, text-based belief have all been shaped by evolving technologies of production and communication, rather than the other way around.

Weaver, “Shifting Agency”

January 8, 2012

Weaver, Dorothy C. 2011. Shifting Agency: Male Clergy, Female Believers, and the Role of Icons.Material Religion 7(3):394-419.

Abstract: In Eastern Orthodox traditions, an icon is a religious image, a depiction of a saint or a significant event. Icons are deployed by believers as symbols, teaching tools, and aids to concentration, but they can also function as social agents that decentralize authority normally concentrated in jurisdictional hierarchies. In the Russian Orthodox Church, all but the lowest formal positions are held exclusively by men, even though women make up the majority of the parishioners. Even among male believers, lay men and junior priests are subject to the power of a very few senior priests, abbots, and bishops. But while Church hierarchies control wealth, real estate, assignments, seminaries, and so on, they do not monopolize spiritual power. Heavenly authority supersedes the clergy’s, and, discursively, heavenly participation by means of miraculous icons can limit hierarchs’ power. When parishioners choose to address their problems by appealing to an icon directly rather than submitting a request that it be included in a formal service, they are bypassing the formal Church structure. Priests, monks, and bishops can ask for miracles, but they can not make them. Icons act as leveling mechanisms shifting power from (masculine) authorities to the (predominantly feminine) laity.

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