This episode of “Women Scholars of Orthodox Christianity” features a conversation with Catherine Wanner.
Highly visible, vernacular religious practices make the presence of religious institutions in the public sphere in Ukraine possible and influential, even among non-believers, critics, and skeptics. The ongoing presence of clergy, religious symbolism, and religious sentiment in public space in Ukraine and other predominantly Eastern Christian societies creates an “affective atmosphere of religiosity.” This atmosphere makes religion a valuable political resource for states that claim to be secular. I argue that an “affective atmosphere of religiosity” allows religion to be secularized into “culture” and “heritage” and therefore remain meaningful even to non-believers and fierce critics of organized religion in predominantly Eastern Christian societies.
Analyzing how an affective atmosphere of religiosity forms and becomes politically useful in Ukraine reveals how and why religion became such a powerful undercurrent in the hybrid war with Russia from 2014-2022 and why, after the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, there is now a proxy war among religious institutions that mirrors conflicts on the battlefield. Religion plays a key role in defining space as it relates to issues of sovereignty, belonging, and sacredness, which facilitates the “weaponization” and “securitization” of religion to advance political, military, and humanitarian agendas since 2022.
The Orthodox Christian Studies Center is delighted to present this series highlighting the scholarly insights and academic careers of female scholars whose research and writing explore some facet of the history, thought, or culture of Orthodox Christianity.
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