Category: Russia

Eileen Kane on the Russian Hajj

As industrialization progressed in the 19th century and railroads became more commonplace, the costs of making the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) became more affordable for the large number of Muslims who lived in Russian territory. Prof. Eileen Kane, a historian at Connecticut College, discusses how the Russians tsars and the Soviets managed the pilgrimage routes to facilitate their geo-political and economic goals, and how Muslims in turn reacted. This story has heretofore gone untold but reveals a great deal about religion and politics, not only in centuries gone by, but for our contemporary world as well.

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Bradley Murg on Russian Orthodoxy after the Soviet Union

Whereas the Soviet Union was noted for being a state that sought to repress all forms of religious expression, the Russian Orthodox Church continued to exist in a weakened form throughout Russia’s communist era. Following the collapse of the Soviet regime in 1991, Rusian Orthodoxy has re-emerged from its slumber to reassert itself in the nation’s culture and institutional structure. How has it fared over the past two decades? Bradley Murg, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington, explores this question revealing much about the nature of religion in Russian society as well as a thing or two about its evolving political structure.

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Ani Sarkissian on Religious Liberty in the Post-Soviet World

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 heralded what many thought would be a new era of liberty in a region of the world that has known little freedom for most of its history. However, many of the new regimes that emerged from the Soviet rubble have slipped back into autocracy. We review these political developments and what this has meant for religious freedom in the region with Prof. Ani Sarkissian (Michigan State University). Interestingly, we observe a fairly wide variation in how governments react to religious organizations with some governments supressing all faiths whereas as others picking and choosing which religions to allow and which to repress. Albania, of all places, emerges as the most religiously free of the post-Soviet “competitive dictatorships.” Find out why.

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Matthew Derrick on the Geography of the Umma

The notion of “the umma” — the community of Islamic believers — is often thought to be at odds with modern (post-Westphalian) notions of national territory. Islam, it is said, transcends the geographic boundaries of the nation-state and this may present unique problems for how societies understand and interact with one another. Prof. Matthew Derrick discusses the role of territory in history and how the umma fits into this, taking on scholars such as Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis who see a disjuncture between the umma and national territory. Prof. Derrick, a geographer, argues that territory is still important and often trumps transnational religious identity, or is at least a concept that cannot be discarded so easily.

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Allison Pond on Being a Mormon Missionary

What is it like to go on a Mormon mission to Russia? Allison Pond, recently of the Pew Forum and now a journalist with the Deseret News, recounts her two-year religious sojourn to southern Russia. We learn about why she went, her preparation for the trip, what the first day on the ground was like, and the various ups and downs of mission life. We also discuss the changing religious landscape in Russia and what that meant for Latter Day Saints who were in the field.

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Allen Hertzke on Religious Liberty

Prof. Allen Hertzke of the University of Oklahoma joins us to discuss religious liberty around the world. We cover why religious liberty has become an increasingly important issue in foreign affairs and why many intellectual and government elites tend to dismiss its importance. The conversation also includes current threats to religious freedoms in many parts of the world and what positive effects might arise from the spread of religious liberties.

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Monica Toft on Religion, Terrorism, and Civil War

A week before the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Prof. Monica Toft of Harvard University joins us to discuss what we have learned about religiously-motivated violence over the past decade. She discusses findings from her new book “God’s Century” on terrorism, informal violence, and civil war. Our conversation covers a wide range of geographic territory and faith traditions, touching upon the IRA in Ireland, Hindu nationalism in India, the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, as well as movements in the Arab Middle East.

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Ken Wald on the Puzzling Politics of American Jews

Why are American Jews more liberal than their socio-economic non-Jewish counterparts?
Why are they more politically liberal than Jews in other countries? And what explains the rightward, then leftward, drift of Jews from the 1970s to present? Prof. Ken Wald provides an interesting historical explanation to these three puzzles. A great complimentary episode to last week’s discussion.

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Roger Finke on Religious Persecution

Roger Finke of Penn State University talks with Tony about the prevalence and reasons for religious persecution around the globe. We explore the connectcions between seemingly small violations of religious liberty and religious persecution. Prof. Finke further argues that even small violations of religious liberty can presage greater threats to a wider set of civil liberties. Our discussion covers all regions of the globe, with a focus on Japan, Nigeria, Iran, Russia, France and the United States.

Listerners are encouraged to email the host and let him know you are listening and to provide feedback (good or bad). The host’s email is: tgill (at) uw (dot) edu

Catherine Wanner on Religion in Russia

The history of religion in Russia and the Ukraine from the Bolshevik Revolution to present is the topic of discussion with Catherine Wanner, associate professor of history, anthropology and religious studies at the Pennsylvania State University. How did religious life under communism condition the religious landscape of these two countries today? (To download, right click on the button to the right and choose “save target as….”)

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