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Title: The experience of sacred place in post-Soviet Russia : a geography of orthodoxy and Islam in Perm' Krai
Author: Arnold, Victoria
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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In the aftermath of the Soviet Union's demise, religious organisations in Russia faced a time of both unprecedented opportunity and unprecedented challenge. Decades of restrictive laws punctuated by active persecution had left a complicated legacy, and even newfound freedoms brought difficulties of their own. In Perm ', an industrial city in the western foothills of the Urals, the two major traditional religions, Russian Orthodoxy and Islam, have set out to reconsider and reassert their positions in post-Soviet society; in this thesis, I investigate the ways in which sacred place and religious conceptions of secular space have been employed to this end, and show how both new church and mosque building and the restoration of reclaimed sites are implicated in the linked processes of coming to terms with the past and carving out a role in the present. While other commentators have rightly pointed out the potentially politicised nature of sacred place, and Perm' is no stranger to the phenomenon, I focus here primarily on its spiritual character and its religious purpose. I argue that the reclamation and restoration of desecrated places of worship is understood by believers in terms of cleansing and justice - they are places redeemed - and that engagement with sacred place (through participation in ritual, practical work, the building of religious community) is also conceived of as a means of repentance, for the individual and for wider society - sacred places are therefore also places of redemption. This thesis emphasises that the re-establishment of religious values and institutions in post-Soviet society is complex and ongoing, and demonstrates that place and people 's ideas about place are a fruitful medium through which to examine the process.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available