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Location & Connections


Visiting Fellows 2011-2012



Zuzanna Bogumił , Academy of Special Education in Warsaw, Poland

“Novomuchenichestvo – the Orthodox Interpretation of the Experience of the Soviet Repressions”
Fellowship period: September 1 – October 31, 2011

Dr Zuzanna Bogumił is a sociologist and cultural anthropologist at the Academy of Special Education in Warsaw. Her research to date has dealt with religious conflicts in Ukraine, memory problems (mostly in Russia), as well as with the significance of historical exhibitions in Central Europe. From 2006 to 2008, she carried out a project entitled Remembering Gulag – analysis of sites of memory located in the former soviet camps in the Russian Federation, which was sponsored by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education. In 2007–2008, Bogumił coordinated an international project, The image of the Second World War in St Petersburg, Warsaw and Dresden, which was sponsored by the Remembrance, Responsibility and Future Foundation and the Robert Bosch Foundation. In 2011, Bogumił received a new grant for research in Russia entitled Novomuchenichestvo – the orthodox interpretation of the Soviet repressions. She has published in Neprikosnovennyj Zapas, Katedra Gender Studies, and Kultura i Społeczeństwo.

Abstract of current research:
In 2011, I started a new project: Novomuchenichestvo – the Orthodox interpretation of the experience of the Soviet repressions. This project assumes the description of the genealogy of the Orthodox discourse of new martyrdom and the characteristics of its significant elements. In particular, the project aims to define the mechanisms that can change the perception of the past; for example, transformation of “enemies of the people” – such as the patriarch Tichon, Tsar Nicholas II or General Anton Denikin – into contemporary martyrs and heroes. The project also intends to analyse the cultural and social meanings imparted on the current “memorial sites” of the new martyrdom, such as holidays, significant biographies of new saints and, above all, the sites of the cults of the new martyrs. These places are of particular interest because by turning the new martyrdom into an important component of its contemporary identity, the Orthodox church wishes to have a monopoly on imparting meaning to burial sites (for example, the village of Butovo or the city of Yekateringburg), which may became a potential source of national conflicts (for example, Katyn, Solovetsky Islands). Since the new martyrdom in Russia has a broad reach and impact that is unprecedented in other Eastern European countries, such an analysis provides a clearer picture of the problem of imparting religious dimension to the 20th-century experience of communism. Therefore, the project constitutes an important contribution to studies on the role of history and the function of memory in post-socialist countries.

Email: mitregaz [at]

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Elina Kahla and Kaarina Aitamurto