1st Edition

Religious Life in the Late Soviet Union From Survival to Revival (1960s-1980s)

Edited By Barbara Martin, Nadezhda Beliakova Copyright 2024
    256 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book presents the first large overview of late Soviet religiosity across several confessions and Soviet republics, from the 1960s to the 1980s. Based on a broad range of new sources on the daily life of religious communities, including material from regional archives and oral history, it shows that religion not only survived Soviet anti-religious repression, but also adapted to new conditions. Going beyond traditional views about a mere "returned of the repressed", the book shows how new forms of religiosity and religious socialisation emerged, as new generations born into atheist families turned to religion in search of new meaning, long before perestroika facilitated this process. In addition, the book examines anew religious activism and transnational networks between Soviet believers and Western organisations during the Cold War, explores the religious dimension of Soviet female activism, and shifts the focus away from the non-religious human rights movement and from religious institutions to ordinary believers.

    List of Figures

    List of Contributors

    List of Abbreviations and Acronyms



    1. Change of Ritual Practice under Communism: the Case of the Russian Orthodox Church in Soviet Ukraine in the late 1950s – early 1970s - Natalia Shlikhta
    2. The Erosion of Tradition. Life Cycle Rites among the Orthodox in the Prikam’e Region (1950s-1980s) - Svetlana Riazanova
    3. The Rybnitser Rebbe and Underground Jewish Religious Life in the Soviet town of Rybnitsa (1960s – 1970s) - Maria Kaspina
    4. Funeral and Memorial Rites of Moscow Muslims in the 1960s-1980s - Islam Zaripov and Marat Safarov
    5. The Boundaries of Legality as an Approach to the Study of Soviet Religious Policy: the Case of Evangelical Christians-Baptists - Johannes Dyck
    6. Trying to leave the Religious Underground. Registration of Catholic communities in late Soviet Kazakhstan - Jerzy Rohozinski
    7. The Activism of Soviet Pentecostals in the 1960s – 1980s - Vera Kliueva
    8. Gender specificity of protest activism in unregistered groups of Evangelical Christians-Baptists in the late Soviet Union - Nadezhda Beliakova
    9. A Christian feminism in the USSR? A historical overview of the religious women’s club "Mariia" (1980-1982) - Anna Sidorevich
    10. Startsy, samizdat and underground seminars: the religious life of young Russian Orthodox converts in the 1970s-1980s - Barbara Martin
    11. Anatolii Vaneev's circle as a phenomenon of informal church community in Leningrad in the 1970s-1980s. - Anna Lepekina
    12. Longing for Truth, Morality, and Enchantment: Late Soviet Spiritual Searches and Journeys to Islam, 1970s-1980s - Eva Rogaar
    13. The Entry of Indian Spiritual Movements into the Cultural Space of Soviet Latvia in the 1970s-80s - Solveiga Krumina-Konkova
    14. Astrological samizdat in the context of (post-)Soviet esoteric culture - Anna Tessman



    Barbara Martin is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Basel, Switzerland

    Nadezhda Beliakova is a a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Bielefeld, Germany