Séminaire de l’axe « Interactions et créativités religieuses : perspectives anthropologiques » – mercredi 29 mars 2023


Jeanne Kormina (EPHE, GSRL) «The War is Everywhere»: uncertainty and a search for moral justification of the war among Russian Orthodox Christians Since the beginning of the Russian invasion in Ukraine the official Russian Orthodox Church announced its support to the military actions of the government. However, the Church still had to explain the reasons and purposes of the war to its flock, the majority of which are women who came of age in the late Soviet pacifist culture. When listening to Orthodox preachers and reading reposts of miracles, urban legends, songs and poems in social media groups, one can see attempts by ordinary believers to make the war comprehensible from the moral and religious point of view. Some Orthodox preachers put the war into the familiar context of anticipation of the Doomsday and suggest to blame the Devil embodied in the «Collective West». Others find the cause of the war in the falling nature of humanity after the Fall of Adam and Eve; this rhetoric strategy leads to normalisation of the war as a usual state of affairs for human society. Yet others invite believers to think about their own moral selves and misdeeds; in this case, the war appears as a cumulative effect of «our» religious ignorance and sinful life. The paper discusses moral uncertainty and the ways of escaping from it among Russian Orthodox Christians of the war-time Russia. Sergei Shtyrkov (EPHE, GSRL) et Elena Malaia (chercheuse indépendante) The Living and the dead: the regime of unconditional conventionality in Soviet public commemorative practices This study examines letters written by schoolchildren in Novorossiysk in 1967 and presented as being written on behalf of the hero Pioneers who died in the Second World War. The letters were addressed to the unborn descendants of the dead and placed in a time capsule that was sent to the bottom of the Black Sea for fifty years. The complex configuration of dead authors and unborn recipients of the letters, with the living speaking with the voices of the dead, will be analysed in a number of other practices of communication with the dead in ritualistic Soviet and post-Soviet contexts. In the case of commemoration of the socially significant dead as part of national rituals, the state assumes the function of controlling the ritual regime. The basis for the legitimacy of this disciplining practice is that the dead, as addressees and recipients of ritual messages, are the “property of the state”, since the fact of their heroic and/or tragic death is used as justification for the existence of the state itself or of the actual political regime. Even if there was an imposed obligation on citizens not to believe in the continuation of life after death, official institutions maintained a regime of ritualistic treatment of the special dead as if they were alive. Soviet citizens were encouraged to play seriously with these social conventions, sometimes resulting in unusual forms of commemoration, such as letters on behalf of those dead heroes. Les organisatrices, Detelina Tocheva (tocheva.detelina@gmail.com) Virginie Vaté (Virginie.VATE-KLEIN@cnrs.fr)