The dynamics of religious engagement: Push and pull factors in Russian Christian Orthodox monasteries
An interview about translations of classics texts in the social sciences, dedicated to the Russian translation of Emile Durkheim's "The Elementary Forms of Religious Life".
The aim of this special issue is to explore, from the perspective of various notions of space, the manifold ways in which Muslims in Russia live and practice their religion. We aim to analyse how Muslims in Russia are confronted in the practice of their religion with various conceptual and experiential realms. These realms correspond to certain divisions that they must negotiate and navigate. Examples of these include the boundaries between the secular and the religious; the public and the private; the official and the informal or unofficial; the local and the translocal/transregional/transnational; halal and haram, etc. Looking at Islam through the lens of space allows us to explore the dynamic ways in which Muslims in Russia have continued to creatively redefine, negotiate, reinforce, alter and dissolve these boundaries and divides since the fall of the Soviet Union. Diverse experiences and perceptions of Muslim spaces further help us to relate the question of the (re)appearance of these Muslim spaces to the process of de-secularisation that is currently taking place in post-Soviet Russia. In particular, we aim to clarify how the relationship between the secular realm and the Islamic religion is being reconfigured by examining how Muslim lives integrate, transcend and alter the normative dichotomies that are present in official discourses on Islam. We thus want to look ethnographically at the relationship between the ways in which normative categories define and delimit certain realms and the ways in which Muslims live their religion by creatively shaping and experiencing spaces that go beyond these normative divisions. In addition, this special issue explores the question of how the (re)creation of Muslim spaces is linked to processes of becoming Muslim, of cultivating a Muslim self and of experiencing different (but often simultaneous) identities and forms of personhood.
In Europe the interaction of biker clubs with Christian churches is not surprising, biker churches and services became a usual thing, Catholics and Lutherans, led by their pastors, regularly hold large-scale national motorcycle events. In Russia biker movement emerged as a copy of west motocycle associations, but it gradually acquired its own specific features imposed, in particular, by the interaction between bikers and the Russian Orthodox Church. Such intertwining of Orthodox Christianity and biker clubs generates specific practices such as religious processions on motorcycles, motocycle religious services, motopilgrimages etc. Bikers take active part in patriotic events. Forms of interaction between bikers and the Russian Orthodox Church are the subject of my study.
The Islamic revival in the Ural region does not only translate into an increase in mosques and institutions of religious education (madrasas), such as the newly built Rasulev madrasa, named after the well-known Sufi sheikh or ishan Zaynulla Rasulev (1833–1917), in the city of Troitsk. Sacred sites are also places where one can witness a renewed religious activity. The observation of sacred sites in the Ural region helps approach the question of how a local Islam, inscribed into a particular territorial sacred geography, shows a capacity to create multiple connections, sometimes with far-away places in the Muslim world. The interconnection between the ‘local’ and the ‘transnational’ in these places helps problematise the conventional dichotomy, which one often encounters in the post-Soviet space between a local, ‘ethnic’, Islam and a universalist, ‘foreign’, Islam.