1st Edition

Ruler Personality Cults from Empires to Nation-States and Beyond Symbolic Patterns and Interactional Dynamics

Edited By Kirill Postoutenko, Darin Stephanov Copyright 2021
    294 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    294 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Encompassing five continents and twenty centuries, this book puts ruler personality cults on the crossroads of disciplines rarely, if ever, juxtaposed before: among its authors are historians, linguists, media scholars, political scientists and communication sociologists from Europe, the United States and New Zealand. However, this breadth and versatility are not goals in themselves. Rather, they are the means to work out an integrated approach to personality cults, capable of overcoming both the dominance of much-discussed 20th century poster examples (Bolshevism-Nazism-Fascism) and the lack of interest in the related practices of leader adoration in religious and cultural contexts. Instead of reiterating the understandable but unfruitful fixation on rulers as the cults’ focal points, the authors focus on communicative patterns and interactional chains linking rulers with their subjects: in this light, the adoration of political figures is seen as a collective enterprise impossible without active, if often tacit, collaboration between rulers and their constituencies.

    Symbolic Patterns and Interactional Dynamics in Ruler Personality Cults: State of the Art and Open Questions

    Kirill Postoutenko and Darin Stephanov

    1. "Personality Cults": The Career of the Contested Notion

    Dmitri Zakharine

    2. The Mechanisms of Cult Production: An Overview

    Xavier Marquez

    3. Making the Cult of Personality from Bottom Up: The Case of Seventeenth-Century Mughal India

    Ali Anooshahr

    4. A Personality Cult against One’s Will? Traits and Trajectories of Popular Veneration of Emperor Alexander I (r. 1801-1825)

    Darin Stepanov

    5. Of Death and Dominion: Queen Victoria and the Cult of Colonial Loyalty

    John Plunkett

    6. The Magic Mirror: Supplicant Letters and the Role of False Equivalences in Shaping Ruler Dominance

    Eva Giloi

    7. Father of the People, Face of the Nation: The Premodern and Modern Foundations of Ruler Personality Cults

    Alexey Tikhomirov

    8. The Image of Josip Broz Tito in Post-Yugoslavia: Between National and Local Memory

    Tamara Trošt

    9. Deification, Canonization and Random Signaling: Upholding and Sustaining Personality Cults

    Kirill Postoutenko

    10. ‘We Thank You, Our Beloved Leader!’ The Origins and Evolution of Nicolae Ceaușescu’s Cult of Personality

    Manuela Marin

    11. Embodied Practices of Leadership: The Case of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

    Charlotte Joppien

    12. Symbolic Patterns and Interactional Dynamics in Ruler Personality Cults: Responding to Questions and Formulating Ideas for Future Research

    Kirill Postoutenko and Darin Stephanov


    Kirill Postoutenko is Senior Researcher in the Special Research Area 1288 (Practices of Comparison) at Bielefeld University, Germany, and Visiting Professor of Russian at the University of Besançon, France.

    Darin Stephanov is Guest Researcher at the Islamic Cultures and Societies Research Unit at Aarhus University, Denmark.

    "In sum, the essays in this volume are all stimulating in their own right and all break new ground in their treatment of their particular subjects" - Graeme Gill, Universiy of of Sydney, H-Net