The issue “Religion and Society in the Caucasus: Post-Soviet Dynamics” of “Gosudarstvo, religiia, tserkov’ v Rossii i za rubezhom“ № 2 (34), 2016 coordinated by Alexandre Agadjanian and Silvia Serrano
Articles by CASCADE researchers in this issue:
Silvia Serrano (WP6) “The Time of Cathedrals: Religious Buildings and Political Legitimation in Post-Soviet Georgia”, Gosudarstvo, religiia, tserkov’ v Rossii i za rubezhom 34(2): 133-155.
In the past two decades, the Orthodox Church of Georgia as an institution has been considerably strengthened, and its influence in the public space has significantly grown. As demonstrated by numerous studies, this is partly due to the link between national and religious identities and to the instrumentalization of religion by political elites. However, the concrete ways in which the public authorities have sought to establish their legitimacy thanks to religious references remain to be scrutinized, as well as the constraints they are subjected to. This article focuses on the games of power and strategies of the Patriarchate and the Government around the construction and reconstruction of two cathedrals, Sameba and Bagrati, and on the challenges of building the symbolic national space. Through the analysis of the attempts of the Saakashvili Government to use the symbolic resources provided by major religious buildings, it sheds some light on the limits of the instrumentalization of Orthodoxy in the legitimization of power. Full text of the article.
Zviadadze Sophie (WP6) “The Cult of Monk Gabriel: Institutionalization of Popular Religion and Its Political Dimension in Geogia”, Gosudarstvo, religiia, tserkov’ v Rossii i za rubezhom 34(2): 226-254.
Monk Gabriel (1929-1995) is one of the most popular religious personalities in modern Georgia. His sermons and prophecies became very popular in the early 1990s and still are to this date. The expanding Internet social networks added to his popularity. His name is connected with miraculous healings; his grave became a sort of a modern shrine in the Georgian Orthodox Church. The phenomenon is on the verge between official and popular religion. His name became a source of legitimation for the Church as well as for the political establishment. In 2012 the “strange monk” was canonized as a saint, in 2014 his body was reburied in the Sameba cathedral in Tbilisi, and an avenue was renamed after him. The whole phenomenon shows the changing and complex role of religion in post-communist Georgian society. The full article is available here.
Zaytseva Anna (WP6) “Cohesion of Religious Communities in Situation of Conflict: A Case Study of Confrontations around Imam n a Dagestani Village”, Gosudarstvo, religiia, tserkov’ v Rossii i za rubezhom 34(2): 281-309.
The article is fieldwork-based and is devoted to the study of social cohesion in the context of co-existence of various Muslim communities in a Dagestani village. The article explores social aspects of religious confrontations emerged around an episode of forced dismissal of a village imam who was accused of belonging to the Wahhabi network. The author analyses narratives around the imam, who is the central figure of the conflict, the main line of respective religious divide, and the flexibility of the boundaries between various groups/communities. As a conclusion, the article identifies preconditions of intensification of religious solidarity, its particular normative, cultural, and political dimensions. Read the full article here.