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Religion in (Post-)Socialist Societies

Project information


Research project’s title: Religion in (Post-)Socialist Societies
Funding: Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies and University Center for International Studies of the University of Pittsburgh, the Eurasian Knot, Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology PAS
Project leader: Sean Guillory, Zuzanna Bogumił
Project host: Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, University of Pittsburgh https://www.ucis.pitt.edu/creees/religion-post-socialist-societies
Cooperating Institutions: Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences


Project objectives


Soviet ideology treated religion as an enemy, a tool of oppression and an expression of backwardness. Militant atheism, the prohibition of religious rituals, and the repression of religious communities aimed to create a secular, rational, and scientific society. Yet, religion mattered in Soviet people’s lives. And with institutional religion restricted, many people expressed their spirituality through “lived religion”—the practice of religion and spirituality in their everyday lives. What were the practices of lived religion in the context of state socialism? And how did it converge and diverge with the return of institutionalized religion and spiritual life after the collapse of communism?

This Spring 2023, the Center for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh in collaboration with Zuzanna Bogumil (Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences) is organizing an interview series Religion in (Post-)Socialist Societies. The events will explore the role of religion in socialist and post-socialist societies in eight online discussions on religion and its relations to repression, nation-building, indigenous cultures, and memory.

All events in this series will be held online.


Planned Events


Lived Religion in the Soviet Union
3:00 - 4:30 PM EST
A LIVE INTERVIEW WITH Catherine Wanner, Pennsylvania State University

Secret Police Archives as Depositories of Faith
12:00 - 1:30 PM EST
A LIVE INTERVIEW WITH Anca Șincan, Gheorghe Sincai Institute of the Romanian Academy AND Tatiana Vagramenko, University College Cork

Old Religion in the Making of the Modern Nation
12:00 - 1:30 PM EST
A LIVE INTERVIEW WITH Geneviève Zubrzycki, University of Michigan AND José Casanova, Georgetown University

Lived Religions in China
9:00 - 10:30 AM EST
A LIVE INTERVIEW WITH Lap Yan Kung, Chinese University of Hong Kong AND Fenggang Yang, Perdue University

Theology After Gulag
12:00 - 1:30 PM EST
A LIVE INTERVIEW WITH Katya Tolstoj, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Useable Pasts? Shamans, Spirituality and Resistance
12:00 - 1:30 PM EST
A LIVE INTERVIEW WITH Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer, Georgetown University

Islam, Repression, and Memory
12:00 - 1:30 PM EST
A LIVE INTERVIEW WITH Elmira Muratova, Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies AND Michael Kemper, University of Amsterdam

Register on the events



All interviews will be available as the podcasts on the website of the Eurasian Knot https://euraknot.org