Head of the Organising Committee
Sanna Turoma
sanna.turoma [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Coordinator
Kaarina Aitamurto
kaarina.aitamurto [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Secretary
Maarit Elo-Valente
maarit.elo-valente [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Intern
Miikka Piiroinen
miikka.piiroinen [at] helsinki.fi

Conference e-mail:
fcree-aleksconf [at] helsinki.fi

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)50-3565 802

aleksanteri [at] helsinki.fi


Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Sonja Luehrmann (Simon Fraser University, Canada)

Jeanne Kormina (Higher School of Economics, Russia)

Sergey Shtyrkov (European University, Russia)

Panel abstract: Russian Orthodox Christians as Cultural Entrepreneurs

The Russian Orthodox Church has the reputation of being a highly centralized organization, and is sometimes regarded as the new state church of twenty-first century Russia. However, the internal processes of governance and decision-making at various levels of church administration and the extent of church influence on regional and federal politics are poorly understood, as is Orthodox Christianity's relationship to the larger field of cultural politics in a religiously and ideologically diverse society. This panel takes an ethnographic approach to the interaction of lay actors and ecclesial and state bodies in the sphere of culture and everyday life. What groups of lay and ordained believers invest in the idea of Russia's "Orthodox culture" and "Orthodox values"? What are the gender aspects of the idea of Orthodox culture and the opportunities of cultural entrepreneurship? What institutional forms are emerging to support this cultural activism, and what do they tell us about the place of Orthodox Christianity in contemporary Russian society?

The panel addresses these questions by focusing on the cultural politics of the lobbying, economic, and media activities of the Russian Orthodox Church in different regional and ethnic contexts.

Sonja Luehrmann (An Orthodox Proposal Economy: Grants, Diocesan Commissions, and Festivals in Defense of the Family) describes the fraught alliances between church and state organizations in the area of reproductive policy and pronatalism;

Jeanne Kormina (Orthodox Expos as Trade Shows and Festivals of Russian Culture) analyzes the institution of Orthodox fairs as an economic and cultural marketplace dominated by female entrepreneurs; and

Sergey Shtyrkov (The Visualization of the Nation's Christian Soul: Documentaries about Ossetian Ethnic Culture as a Tool of Inculturation) looks at the media discourses on ethnic identities in the North Caucasus promoted by the North Ossetian diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Taken together, the papers demonstrate the diversity of institutional actors that make up "the Church" and illuminate the scope and mechanisms of their ambitions to redefine culture in today's Russia.