This stimulating collection of essays is a major contribution to the study of religious policy in modern Russia. It provides a valuable and comprehensive picture of the theory and praxis of religious policy, as a multi-confessional empire sought to reconcile its traditional ties to the Orthodox Church with the expectations of the non-Orthodox (roughly a third of the Empire in 1897).
Despite Russia’s religiously diverse population and the strong connection between the Russian state and the Orthodox Chuch, the problem of religious freedom has been a driving force in the country’s history. This volume gathers leading scholars to provide an extensive exploration of the evolution, experience, and contested meanings of religious freedom in Russia from the early modern period to the present, with a particular focus on the nineteenth century. Addressing different spiritual traditions, clerics and revolutionaries, ideas and lived experience, Religious Freedom in Modern Russia explores the various meanings that religious freedom, toleration, and freedom of conscience had in Russia among nonstate sectors.
Russia tends to be associated with limits on religion rather than with its freedom. This book offers a richer and more nuanced narrative. In fascinating and eloquent detail, leading authorities trace little-known traditions of Russian religious freedom—including toleration and freedom of conscience— evolving and sometimes thriving in difficult contexts, from early modernity to today’s global spiritual marketplace.
The commitment to showing that there was a wide spectrum of understandings of religious freedom in imperial Russia is particularly praiseworthy, turning the attention of scholars away from a monolithic vision focused on liberal theorists and the autocracy’s failure to implement freedom of conscience to a more multidimensional account of various trends, discourses, and institutions interacting with one another.
Randall A. Poole (Ph.D., University of Notre Dame, 1996) is Professor of History at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota. He teaches in the Department of History and Politics, in the Health Humanities Program, in the Honors Program, and in the Dignitas First-Year Program. His research areas include Russian and European intellectual history, the history of ideas, and the history of philosophical and religious thought. Poole is a Fellow of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and a Fellow of the International Center for the Study of Russian Philosophy at the Institute of Philosophy, Saint Petersburg State University. In 2012 he was Visiting Professor of Russian Intellectual History at the University of Toronto. He has held research fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New York University, Stanford University, Columbia University, and elsewhere. Over the past twenty-five years he has presented about seventy-five papers and lectures at academic conferences and universities in the United States and abroad. His CV and many of his publications are available at https://css.academia.edu/RandallAPoole and at http://philosophy.spbu.ru/rusphil/1558/15339.
Paul Werth joined the faculty of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 1997, after receiving his PhD at the University of Michigan in 1996, and is now Professor in the Department of History. In 2004-2005 he was visting fellow at the Slavic Research Center at the University of Hokkaido, Japan; a fellow at the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina in 2007-2008; and a visting fellow at the Center for Advanced study at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany in 2011. From 2009 until the summer of 2015 he served as one of the three editors of the journal Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History. In 2013-14 he was chair of UNLV’s Faculty Senate, after that serving as chair of UNLV’s Promotion & Tenure Committee and then chair of its Department of History. Liberation from the latter post in mid-2017 has become a major highlight of his life.