Conversion After Socialism: Disruptions, Modernisms and Technologies of Faith in the Former Soviet Union

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Mathijs Pelkmans
Berghahn Books, Nov 30, 2009 - Social Science - 216 pages
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The large and sudden influx of missionaries into the former Soviet Union after seventy years of militant secularism has been controversial, and the widespread occurrence of conversion has led to anxiety about social and national disintegration. Although these concerns have been vigorously discussed in national arenas, social scientists have remained remarkably silent about the subject. This volume's focus on conversion offers a novel approach to the dislocations of the postsocialist experience. In eight well researched ethnographic accounts the authors analyze a range of missionary encounters as well as aspects of conversion and "anti-conversion" in different parts of the region, thus challenging the problematic idea that religious life after socialism involved a simple "revival" of repressed religious traditions. Instead, they unravel the unexpected twists and turns of religious dynamics, and the processes that have challenged popular ideas about religion and culture. The contributions show how conversion is rooted in the disruptive qualities of the new "capitalist experience" and document its unsettling effects on the individual and social level.


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PostSoviet Space and the Unexpected Turns of Religious Life
Chapter 2Conversion to Religion?
Chapter 3Redefining Chukchi Practices in Contexts of Conversion to Pentecostalism
Nenets Reindeer Herders Joining the State through Conversion
Chapter 5Right Singing and Conversion to Orthodox Christianity in Estonia
Chapter 6The Civility and Pragmatism of Charismatic Christianity in Lithuania
Chapter 7Networks of Faith in Kazakhstan
Encounters with Pentecostalism in Muslim Kyrgyzstan
Evangelicalism asTravelling Culture
Chapter 10Postsocialism Postcolonialism Pentecostalism
Notes on Contributors

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About the author (2009)

Mathijs Pelkmans is Lecturer in Anthropology at the London School of Economics. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Amsterdam and worked as a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology from 2003 to 2006. Over the past ten years he has carried out extensive fieldwork in Georgia and Kyrgyzstan. He is the author of Defending the Border: Identity, Religion, and Modernity in the Republic of Georgia (2006) and has published on Muslim-Christian relations, territorial borders, political turmoil and postsocialist change.

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