CfP: The Varieties of Russian Modernity II

RANEPAThe Varieties of Russian Modernity II: Religion, State and Approaches to Pluralism in Russian Contexts

Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA)
May 14-16, 2014
Deadline for submitting abstracts: December 10, 2013
Deadline for submitting full papers: March 28, 2014

Following up on the success of the first Varieties of Russian Modernity Conference held at RANEPA June 7-9, 2013, we are pleased to announce that RANEPA’s Center for Russian Studies will be hosting a second international conference in the same vein on May 14-16, 2014.
We hereby invite paper proposals of approximately 750-1000 words related to the theme of religion, state, and approaches to pluralism in Russian contexts. While the primary focus will be on topics related to Russian history and contemporary Russian (rossiiskie) realities, comparative and transnational approaches are encouraged. The term “Russian contexts” should be construed broadly. The organizers would welcome proposals from representatives of religious studies, history, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, political science, psychology, social psychology, literary studies, education, journalism, and other relevant fields.
We live in a time in which issues related to religion and secularism have come to the fore of both policy and academic discussions. Within these discussions, some of the most important questions have to do with how to achieve fairness and equality among the representatives of various confessions and those with no religious affiliation vis-à-vis the secular state. The Rawlsian liberal model has been increasingly called into question, prominently by Charles Taylor and even Jürgen Habermas, to whom we owe our current debates about the meaning of the “post-secular.” The increasing visibility of religious concerns has, in conjunction with processes of globalization, served to highlight and reinforce the prevailing understanding of pluralism as a condition fundamental to modernity. At the same time, however, the Soviet multi-national model has fallen away, along with its extreme version of Enlightenment laïcité, and prominent voices have cast doubt on the prospects for twentieth-century American and European models of multiculturalism.
The Varieties of Russian Modernity II: Religion, State and Approaches to Pluralism in Russian Contexts seeks to contribute to our ongoing discussions of these important global issues by examining the case of Russia, which has been a multi-national, multi-confessional state since before the development of modern conceptions of toleration and co-existence. Post-Soviet Russia has experienced revivals to varying degrees among Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and Muslims. In Russia today, peaceful coexistence is the most common experience on the “bytovoi” level of the streets and marketplace, but it takes place within an atmosphere of some tension. The construction of mosques in European Russia is frequently opposed by Russian Christians, contributing to feelings of marginalization among Russian Muslims. Meanwhile, the recent Russian legislative initiative to protect the feelings of religious believers has incited worries about potential discrimination against atheists. With significant jail time potentially in store for offenders, there is also the worry that the law may be applied unevenly and that its mere existence may have a stifling impact on inter-religious dialogue.
Eligible topics for the conference

Taking these and related issues into account, RANEPA’s upcoming conference will seek to address the following broad questions.

What approaches can we use to understand the present Russian situation? How might Russia best foster peaceful coexistence between members of its diverse confessions? What might Russian historical and contemporary experience have to contribute to the development of more broadly applicable empirical and normative models and approaches?

More specific areas of inquiry that proposals may address include (but are not limited to) the following:

What role does Russia’s imperial (and/or Soviet) past play in shaping the contemporary realities of Russian pluralism? Where are the continuities and breaks, both in terms of state and regional policies and “actually existing pluralism” on the ground?
Does contemporary Russia have a coherent policy approach to church-state relations and the adjudication of claims among representatives of various confessions? How does its approach compare with that of other modern secular states?
How does the experience of Russian pluralism vary from one region to another? What about with respect to social class? Generation? Confessional affiliation?
Case studies dealing with particular confessions, communities, or incidents, with a historical or recent focus, the implications of which are broader than the individual cases.
Russian (russkie ili rossiiskie) historical or contemporary experiences of pluralism outside Russia.
The historical or recent contributions of Russian philosophers, theologians, literary writers, and/or other intellectuals (including émigré intellectuals) to normative discussions of issues related to pluralism, toleration, and/or coexistence. Such contributions need not be well known; it may be even more desirable to recover less well known Russian voices with something to say to contemporary problems.
Representations of pluralism in Russian literature and art, along with an analysis of their broader significance.

Guidelines for submission

Interested parties should submit their proposals to all three organizers, Christopher Stroop (, Dmitry Uzlaner ( and Alexander Agadjanian ( no later than December 10, 2013.
The organizers will inform applicants of their status in early January. Proposals should consist of a 750-1000 word description of the project along with a curriculum vitae.
The conference format will be intimate and intensive, with a total of approximately 30-40 participants whose presentations will be organized into panels by the conference organizers. The working languages of the conference will be both English and Russian, meaning that participants are expected to have at least passive knowledge of both languages. In order to lend the conference a greater level of cohesion, conference organizers will select and distribute some common readings that participants will be expected to read before the conference. In addition, selected participants will be asked to submit reasonably polished drafts of their conference papers by March 28, 2014, so that all participants will have time to read each other’s papers in advance of the conference. This allows for shorter presentations at the conference itself as opposed to reading the papers out loud, and leaves more time for discussion. For those participants seeking to revise their papers for publication, the organizers will seek to facilitate this. Publication will most likely be made available in a conference volume published through RANEPA’s Delo Publishing House, in a special issue of RANEPA’s religious studies quarterly State, Religion and Church in Russia and Worldwide, or both.  Any questions may be addressed to the organizers.


Pending final budgetary approval, invited participants from outside Moscow will receive the following: visa support as applicable (although they must pay consular fees themselves); transportation to and from a Moscow airport as applicable; accommodation in RANEPA’s hotel from May 13 – May 16, 2014; one economy class round-trip air or train ticket (which must be booked by RANEPA in accordance with participant preferences – no reimbursements for travel booked by participants will be possible).

Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA)

Information & contacts

PhD, History and Humanities, Stanford University
Senior Lecturer, RANEPA, Moscow

Author: admin

Share This Post On