The predominant place of Orthodox religion in Russian society and the close relationship between the Orthodox Church and political power is often cited as a striking example of return of religion onto the public stage after 70 years of state atheism.
This phenomenon is generally dated back to the late Perestroika years, following the liberalization of religion after the 1000th anniversary of the Christianization of Kievan Rus in 1988. There has been little investigation, however, into the roots of this phenomenon.
Based on oral history interviews, archival research in Russia and abroad, memoirs and secondary literature, this project examines the religious revival which took place within the Russian Orthodox intelligentsia, starting from the late 1960s, in Moscow and Leningrad.
The project first examines the late Soviet period:
- the process of conversion to Orthodoxy of educated youth,
- religious practices and the creation of underground religious groups,
- the circulation of underground religious literature (samizdat and tamizdat) behind and across the Iron Curtain
- the role of Orthodox clergy in this process
- the role of Western state and non-state actors
- political repression of religious dissent
The project also seeks to shed light on the role of lay and religious actors who came to faith in the late Soviet era in the broader religious revival of the Perestroika and post-Soviet period:
- attempts by clergy and laypeople to reform Russian Orthodoxy or the Russian Orthodox Church
- the revival of parish life and Orthodox fraternities
- the rise and fall of Christian democratic parties and the impact of Orthodox believers and clergy in post-Soviet politics
- Other activities in the media, religious education, etc
For this research project, Barbara Martin conducts interviews with Russian Orthodox believers who came to faith before Perestroika and who were active in Moscow and Leningrad. If you are interested in participating, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
New publications of the project
Martin,Barbara, "From the Komsomol to the Church: Conversions to Orthodoxy among Soviet Youth in the 1970s–1980s," in Ramsak Jure, Mithans Gasper, Rezek Mateja (ed.), Christian Modernity and Marxist Secularism in East Central Europe: Between Conflict and Cooperation (Zagreb: Srednja Europa, 2023), 257-272.
Мартин, Барбара. "Приход отца Александра Меня и позднесоветская интеллигенция", Colta.ru, 07.02.2022.
Martin, Barbara, « Poésie, Philosophie, Orthodoxie. Le renouveau religieux parmi l’intelligentsia soviétique dans les années 1970, » Revue suisse d’histoire religieuse et culturelle, vol. 115 (2021), pp. 39-56.
Мартин, Барбара. "Мы перепечатывали все...": Православный самиздат и тамиздат в СССР 1970-х-1980-х годов. // Acta samizdatica. Записки о самиздате. №5 (2020)
Martin Barbara, "The Role of Eastern Religions in Spiritual Quests of Young Orthodox Converts in the Late Soviet Period", New Age in Russia, 30.05.2020
Presentation of the project and online presentations
"Bibles in the Land of Soviets: the Religious Revival within the Russian Orthodox Intelligentsia in Moscow (1970s-1980s)" at the Moscow Higher School of Economics, November 24, 2020.
"Религиозное возрождение в 1970–1980х гг." Interview to the You Tube channel "Русское христианство", July 15,2021
"От инакомыслия к православию" Доклад в рамках семинара Historia Ecclesiae et Religionis Центра по изучению истории религии и Церкви Института Всеобщей Истории Российской Академии Наук
"РСХД и помощь советским верующим", presentation in the framework of the seminar "Historia Ecclesiae et Religionis" of the Russian Academy of Sciences, February 1, 2023.