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    An island of Holy Rus': the crisis in the Russian Orthodox Diaspora in the UK 1991-2009

    Collins, Robert (2021) An island of Holy Rus': the crisis in the Russian Orthodox Diaspora in the UK 1991-2009. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    This thesis analyses the crisis which occurred in the Russian Church in Britain (Moscow Patriarchate) in 2006, as a result of which approximately one third of the diocese left for the jurisdiction of Constantinople. Tensions in the London cathedral had been building since the influx of Russophone migrants following the collapse of the Eastern Bloc (1989) and the Soviet Union (1991). These new economic migrants quickly became the majority and came into conflict with previous emigres and indigenous converts. But the division was not clear cut, with Russians and English on both sides, the arguments broadened out into the broader ‘culture wars’; traditionalism versus liberalism, enculturation versus transnationalism, nationalism versus globalism. The genesis of the crisis went even further back, into the troubled history of the Russian diaspora after 1917. The crisis in Sourozh was connected to other similar events in the Russian Church in Nice, Biarritz, Paris, Budapest, and other cities. The union of the Russian Church Abroad(ROCOR)with the Moscow Patriarchate (2007)was taking place at the same time and also influenced events. The increasingly hostile relations between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople broadened the crisis out into world Orthodoxy. The growth of the internet, globalisation and geopolitical polarisation all played a major role. Western media and academia described the events largely in terms of a new Russian revanchism, in which the Church was part of the soft-power apparatus of the new Russia under Vladimir Putin. In this narrative, the neo-Slavophile philosophy of the State had infiltrated the Church, along with an emphasis on vertical (as opposed to horizontal or democratic) power. Different ecclesiological interpretations of sobornost’ played a key role. Figures in both Church and State did speak of the consolidation of the Russian Diaspora, the global mission of the Russian Church, and of Russian parishes abroad as ‘islands of Holy Rus’. This thesis analyses the claims of revanchism and russification in the light of Russian universalism and the significance of the Russian diaspora. The contention is made that microcosmic events on the ground were indeed part of much broader ideological struggles, but these were not always as clear as they appeared in the analysis of the day. Academics have been tempted to view the crisis, and similar events, in terms of European nationalism and the tensions thrown up by globalisation. The author both confirms and critiques these claims, but also draws in other strands of analysis, from the importance of nostalgia, the history of mentalities, cultural praxis and deep theological dichotomies. Some aspects of the crisis appear to have had ancient roots.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2021 11:12
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 14:52


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