The renewed relevance of religion in post-Soviet public spheres has been accompanied by conspicuous and controversial conversion processes. This article compares cases of conversion on the Muslim-Christian frontier in Kyrgyzstan and in Georgia. It argues that the notions of boundary and frontier are essential to construct a more dynamic model for understanding 'spiritual' movement in social contexts that are rapidly changing. This approach in turn sheds light on the roles and the nature of social and cultural boundaries in the contemporary world.
Evangelical Christianity, Rapid Change, and the Eastern Khanty
Andrew Wiget and Olga Balalaeva
This article discusses preliminary findings from our research into the activity of evangelical missionaries among the Khanty of Surgut region, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug. Our aim is to begin to define the nature and the scale of recent developments in the religious life among the eastern Khanty; to understand why evangelical missionary activity among the Khanty has met with some success; to discover how the conflicts it precipitates make visible the hidden, implicit divisions in communities; and to lay out lines of further inquiry that may help integrate the work of those ethnographers exploring similar phenomena in Siberian communities. This article argues that rapid change, brought about by intensive petroleum development coupled with the collapse of Soviet structures, provided openings for these new ideologies by altering objective conditions of Khanty life.
Crypto-Jews in Morocco and Their Fate
Paul B. Fenton
of Jewish descent. Instances of individual or even mass conversion of Jews to Islam, mostly under duress, were widespread in Morocco on account of its recurrent political upheavals and the precariousness of its indigenous Jews, who were the only non
broader kind of ‘turning’ than religious conversion. 4 The word’s Latin origin, ‘ renegare ’ – to deny or reject – applies to anyone who abandons commitments. Renegades reject social responsibility in favour of individual interests, embracing the
Maciej ‘Mati’ Kirschenbaum
many Progressive Jews, are unwilling to declare their belief in the God of Israel, or even identify as agnostic, as they do not believe in the existence of God at all. 3 Such unwillingness, if expressed openly, might preclude them from conversion, as
Spiritual Lovesickness in the Letters of Anne-Marie Martinozzi
In February 1654, Anne-Marie Martinozzi, a niece of Cardinal Mazarin, married Armand de Bourbon, Prince of Conti. The newlyweds went on to experience almost concurrent pious conversions that would transform their social behavior for the remainder of their lives. Shortly afterward, Armand was posted to northern Italy as commander of the French army, necessitating a six-month estrangement of the couple between May and October 1657. This article explores a corpus of “love letters” penned by the princess during this separation. It argues that Anne-Marie not only claimed to be suffering from “melancholy” as a result of her separation from her lover and spouse, but that she also constructed an image of herself as spiritually lovesick on account of her deprivation from her mentor and confidant. In doing so, this article sheds light on the centrality of copenitents to the direction of spiritual lives in the aftermath of a pious conversion.
Runaway Brides, Orthodox Missionaries, and the Construction of Empire among the Buriats, 1870s–1917
Jesse D. Murray
This article revisits the trope of the runaway bride, a popular means of narrating the conversion to Orthodoxy of Buriat women during the nineteenth century that depicted women's conversions as pragmatic and lacking religious meaning. Using petitions and memoranda from church archives, Murray finds that encounters between Buriats and missionaries over the conversion and remarriage of Buriat women served as a powerful means of incorporating the Buriats into the Russian Empire by producing new, imperially shaped possibilities for Buriat self-definition. Women seeking conversion and remarriage utilized conceptions about women's individual rights within marriage based in discourses about marriage and patriarchy then widespread in central Russia. Men contesting the remarriage of wives and daughters treated Buriat custom as a formally sanctioned branch of imperial law, transforming flexible custom into codified, inflexible customary law.
Muslim Converts’ Ambivalent Encounters with Race
debated) relevance of the category of “White” as an option of identification for the French majority. In exploring the convoluted meanings of Whiteness in the French context, this article takes conversion to Islam as an entry point. By focusing on the
missionary activities and frequent cases of conversion to Protestant Christianity among nomadic and sedentary native people. The Nenets people have been popularly viewed as strongholds of “native traditional culture” who were reluctant to convert to
A Case Study of Filipina Converts and Their Adult Children
Religious rituals, while comforting for believers, may be uncomfortable for those who do not share their manifold meanings. Catholic Filipinas who marry Muslim Iranian men face mandatory conversion to Islam, necessitating ongoing negotiations between Christianity and Islam. My research suggests that these Filipinas held their first religion dear while participating in – for them – unpleasant Shi’a Muslims rituals. Their Filipino/Iranian children, familiar from birth with Shi’a Islam, felt at home with both religions, no matter which one they chose for themselves. The discussion of converts’ perceptions of Shi’a rituals contributes to the literature on transnational marriages and marriage migration.