Religious nationalism continues to be a relevant phenomenon in the 21st century. In the United States, India, Israel, Turkey and many other countries, the religious is actively mixed with the national. Ideas of national identity, oppositions of “us” vs. “them”, images of national futures are actively pierced by religious narratives, images and contents. Religious nationalism today is not limited to a single confession or religion, to a single region or continent – it is a global phenomenon that can be found in a variety of contexts and in a variety of places around the globe.
Russia is no exception. For years scholars of Russian religion have been documenting the rise of religiously informed ideologies about Russian civilizational uniqueness (e.g. the “Russkiy mir” concept) and its special role in global processes. These ideologies reinforced aggressive plans and geopolitical ambitions that resulted in the catastrophe of February 2022, when Russia launched a full-blown military invasion in Ukraine. The Russian Orthodox Church, the leading Christian institution in Russia, supported this invasion and justified it by reference to the necessity to defend “our” traditional way of life as opposed to that of the godless West.
The task of this special issue of Political Theology is to explore the religious, namely Christian, underpinnings of Russian ideology. Is Russia just one case in the rise of global religious nationalisms, or does it provide exceptional frames and strategies? How to navigate between open imperialist and transnational claims and the nationalistic agenda? Is Christian nationalism an appropriate concept to describe developments in the country, and if so, what are its characteristics? How to reconcile Christianity and other religions / confessions traditional to Russia in this nationalism? How much Christianity is in Russian religious nationalism, and what role do religious communities play in shaping or countering the concept? At the same time, we don’t want to limit ourselves just to the national framework – we would like also to consider the transnational dimension: the various networks of new far-right Christian movements involving Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church.
The coming issue of Political Theology aims at unpacking Russia’s (extra)ordinary religious nationalism. We welcome papers from a wide array of disciplines such as theology, religious studies, social sciences, history and ethnology, shedding light on different aspects of religious nationalism in Russia (with emphasis on Christianity, but not necessarily limited to the Russian Orthodox Church), the applicability of the concept, the use of comparison with and demarcation from other contexts of Christian nationalism, and the role of theology and churches in relation to the emergence of nationalistic currents in Russian Christianity.
Essay proposals should be 750-1,000 words and detail the thesis, significance, and method of essays that will be between 6-7,000 words. These essays should not have been published elsewhere. Please send proposals, as well as a current CV, to guest-editors of the special issue – Dr. Regina Elsner (email@example.com) and Dr. Dmitry Uzlaner (firstname.lastname@example.org) by December 15, 2023. Inquiries can also be addressed to those email addresses. The editors will notify all authors by January 15, 2024 about the status of their proposals, and will expect completed essays by the end of the year 2024.