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Fellow Seminar

29 June 2017

Dr. Daniela Kalkandjieva will present her research proposal on the topic: "The Russian Orthodox Church in Contemporary Geopolitics: Ecclesiological Aspects" on 29 June 2017 (Thursday) at 16:30h at CAS Conference Hall.

Abstract:

The project explores the role of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) in contemporary geopolitics from an ecclesiological viewpoint. Correspondingly, its focus falls on the international activities of the Moscow patriarchate (MP) analyzed from the perspective of the religious practices and ecclesiological concepts that have been elaborated by the Russian churchmen and lay theologians since 1917.

The proposed approach challenges the view that "in international politics the world is secular" (W.C. Fletcher) and thus the MP's activities abroad used to serve only the secular goals of Soviet foreign policy. In the last years, this paradigm has been undermined by both secular scholars (R. Blitt) and Orthodox theologians (N. Kazaryan), who have pointed to some specific aims pursued by the Orthodox churches on the international scene. Despite the progress made, however, these studies fail to reveal the factors which have triggered the development of contemporary ecclesiastical geopolitics as well as to outline their distinctive features that make this type of geopolitics different from the secular one. In the Russian case, there is one more important weakness - the neglect of the interwar and wartime developments which have determined the main directions of the MP's ecclesiastical geopolitics in the last century. In this regard, especially important is the interwar period, when the ROC's hierarchs in the territories under Soviet control, as well as those who had fled abroad after the Bolshevik revolution, for the first time in the ROC's history had the chance to develop concepts and practices regarding the Russian dioceses, missions and parishes abroad as well as regarding the relations of their Church with the other Orthodox churches independently from the State and sometimes against the interests of the Bolshevik regime.

In this regard, the project expands the timespan of analysis by paying special attention to the period between 1917-1947, which analysis not only opens a different perspective to Russian ecclesiastical geopolitics but also allows parallels to be drawn between the interwar and the post-Soviet developments in this sphere. Furthermore, the project pays special attention to the birth of mixed geopolitics when the Soviet State and the Moscow patriarchate found mutually beneficial to collaborate on the international scene during World War and the first post-war years. In this regard, the project contributes to the existing studies by revealing the specific ecclesiastical goals pursued by the Moscow patriarchate on the international scene (e.g. to preserve its jurisdiction over the ROC's oversees branches) as well as the religious mechanisms used for their achievement (e.g. the acts of granting autonomy or autocephaly), and the concept elaborated for their defence (e.g. the MP's canonical territory).
 

 

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