"This collection of contributions addresses the theme of religiously motivated and religiously framed civic activism by bringing together anthropology and theology. The main goal is to put forward a concept of religious activism as local, non-elitist responses challenging dominant discourses and regulation of the religious in authoritarian and more democratic societies. Highlighting complex entanglements of religion, civic engagement, and political participation over the last decade, the authors explore the ways faith-based claims, acts, and initiatives from below are evolving in public spaces, mostly in post-Soviet societies. The contributors to this collection shed light on a variety of faith-based claims arising around religious materiality, governance questions, and unequal access to resources in Russia, Georgia, Eastern Germany, and in the USA. The contributions also identify the means of mediating acts of religious activism, those chosen forms of public expression that make the voices of religious activists more visible and mobilise individual and collective actions in public spaces."
"Fear and loathing in North Ossetia: how ethnic activism can turn into religious nativism" :
"This contribution examines how ethnic activism in a republic of the Russian North Caucasus region, namely North Ossetia-Alania, is viewed by various social groups as a religious protest movement. This interpretation is influenced by anti-colonial discourse and an ideological agenda linking issues of religious identity and political loyalty. At the centre of these disputes are ideas about whether the ethnic religion of the Ossetian people is the local version of Orthodox Christianity or the original Ossetian religion of pre-Christian genesis that has survived to this day in the form of Ossetian ethnic traditions. Proponents of the latter concept argue that the spread of Orthodox Christianity among Ossetians should be seen as the result of spiritual colonisation by external political forces. Orthodox leaders and many ordinary believers in North Ossetia strongly protest against this interpretation of the role of Orthodoxy in the republic. Under these conditions Ossetia’s Orthodox Christians perceive any anti-colonial public gesture as aimed at contesting the completeness of their ethnic identity."
"Fervent Christians: Orthodox activists in Russia as publics and counterpublics" :
"In the post-Soviet context liberal publics in Russia often see the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate as a satellite of the state and its collaborator. Attempts by Church representatives, sometimes self-appointed, to enlarge the Church’s presence in public space are perceived by secular publics as violating certain principles fundamental to the functioning of the public sphere: individual membership and independence from the state. Consequently, individual religious activists and associations of believers – Orthodox brotherhoods and sisterhoods, charity projects and other initiatives affiliated with the Church – function as counterpublics which feel excluded from the common public sphere and form alternative public spheres. This contribution focuses on the public actions of a female religious activist in a big city in the Urals who presents herself as speaking on behalf of the church people, often aiming to establish or defend visible religious symbols in the city landscape."