Saving post-Soviet souls: The new religiosity of Russian-speaking migrants
This talk brings together the anthropology of new religiosity and a critical study of therapeutic emotional culture. It is based on a long-term ethnographic and narrative study of an emerging Russian-speaking religiosity in migrant spaces. The analysis probes three rich biographical narratives of Russian-speaking immigrant women. The first one lives in the ultra-orthodox Jewish Chabbad community, the second one is an activist in a Christian Messianic group, and the third one has converted to Islam and is currently an observant Muslim. Being carriers of seemingly opposite religious ideologies and practices, these women, surprisingly, constitute in a very similar way their narrative of personal wellbeing\happiness gained by a religious way of life. While closely examining the content and the language of this happiness, the presentation discusses the contemporary interlacing, merging or mimicry of religious and therapeutic regimes of emotional life, personal well-being and interpersonal relations. Thus, the analysis questions the deeply rooted understanding of "religion as therapy" and suggests reconsidering it in the context of the global therapeutic and neo-liberal cultural condition.