Sacred Spaces and Civic Action

Topographies of Pluralism in Russia

in Religion and Society
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  • 1 University of California Santa Cruz lissa@ucsc.edu
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Abstract

This article examines several key sites where Russia's civic and religious bodies intersect in pursuit of social justice goals. Based on ethnographic fieldwork among religious communities and social justice organizations in Moscow, the article focuses on the physical, social, and legal spaces where church and state, secular and sacred, civic and personal intersect and the consequences of these intersections for how Russians understand new configurations of church and state, private and public, religious and political. Of particular concern is the emergence of new forms of religious and political pluralism that transcend any one particular space, such as for worship, community life, or political support or protest, and instead reveal shifting practices and ethics of social justice that are more pluralist, progressive, and tolerant than they may appear to be to outside observers.

Contributor Notes

MELISSA L. CALDWELL is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research and teaching are situated at the nexus of food studies, poverty and welfare, and social justice. Her long-term ethnographic research in Russia examines the entanglement of political systems in the most ordinary spaces and dimensions of people's lives and, in turn, how individuals represent, interpret, and experience their relationships with the state and their fellow citizens. Her current research focuses on hacking and creative economies as modes of social activism. She is the author of Not by Bread Alone: Social Support in the New Russia (2004), Dacha Idylls: Living Organically in Russia's Countryside (2010), and Living Faithfully in an Unjust World: Compassionate Care in Russia (2017). E-mail: lissa@ucsc.edu

Religion and Society

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