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Guest Lecture of Prof. Victor Roudometof

10 November 2017

“The Transformations of Orthodox Christianity in the Longue-Durée: A Sociological Analysis”

Prof. Victor Roudometof

Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Cyprus, Nicosia

Abstract: According to Western-centered modernist interpretations, Orthodox Christianity is supposed to be a backward looking anti-modern or anti-Western faith. This Orientalist gaze fails to do justice to the historical transformations of Orthodoxy. To grasp these transformations a long-term perspective is required. Such a perspective requires a break with conventional interpretations that view modernization & secularization as universal processes. From within the lenses of an alternative global-comparative perspective, Orthodox Christianity emerges as a faith that has successfully adjusted to a variety of distinct historical eras and historical formations – ranging from empires to nation-states. The lecture shall offer a classification of the cultural forms Orthodox Christianity has assumed in these varied cultural and socio-political contexts. Briefly, these forms entail the following: (a) a vernacularized religion, whereby access to holy scripts is mediated by access to a sacred language; (b) an indigenized religion, whereby faith and ethnicity are intertwined and sacred scripts are rendered into the language of a specific ethnic community or ethnie; (c) a nationalized religion, whereby the legitimacy of the Church rests on its intertwining with the nation; and (d) a transnational religion, which refers to the specific adaptations of the nationalized religion under conditions of international migration. It is argued that by the 20th century the dominant forms of Orthodox Christianity are (c) & (d). While modernist interpretations view Orthodoxy’ nationalized versions as an obstacle to modernization a long-term perspective recognizes that these versions are themselves the product of Orthodoxy’s historical adaptation and adjustment to modernity.

Professor Victor Roudometof has studied Economics, Sociology, Cultural Studies & History. He has held positions with Princeton University, Washington and Lee University, Miami University and currently is Associate Professor at the University of Cyprus. His research interests include globalization, culture, religion, nationalism, transnationalism and diasporas.  He is the author of four monographs & has edited five volumes and several issues of refereed journals. His work has been published in Greece, Bulgaria and FYROM. He has served in various positions as evaluator or reviewer for major international agencies, publishing houses and other organizations. Currently, he is a member in the editorial boards of the European Journal of Social Theory, Nations and Nationalism, the Greek Review for Social Research, Interreligious Studies and Intercultural Theology and Religions. He is Faculty Fellow with Yale University's Center for Cultural Sociology, Cyprus Correspondent for EUREL – Sociological and Legal Data on Religion in Europe, Cyprus Program Director for the European Values Study & Board Member in the European Sociological Association's Research Network on Global, Transnational and Cosmopolitan Sociology. He is also co-founder and vice-president of the Historical and Literary Archives of Kavala, an organization responsible for historical archives in Eastern Macedonia. For details, see


10 November 2017