Materialising Soviet religions: Liquidation Commissions, sacred buildings and religious communities in 1920’s Moldavia

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Lisnic, Dumitru
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University College Cork
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This thesis explores the interaction of religious groups with state agencies in the Soviet Union during the 1920s. The PhD project examines the activity of the Liquidation Commissions of Soviet Ukraine and looks into how these agencies used religious buildings and objects in order to study and manipulate religious communities. The Liquidation Commissions were responsible for making the religious landscape legible for the Soviet policymakers and institutions involved in anti-religious campaigns, including for the secret police. The thesis focuses on cases of religious objects and buildings belonging to Inochentist, Evangelical, Jewish, and Eastern Orthodox communities from the Moldavian autonomous region of Soviet Ukraine. The PhD research project draws on rich archival material from Kiev, Chisinau and Odessa, namely the archives of the NKVD of Soviet Ukraine, of party organization of Moldavian autonomous region and of Odessa region, and the secret police archives of Soviet Ukraine and Moldavia. The research takes a material approach to the archives drawing on a range of theories dealing with questions of agency and materiality. Through an exploration of the interaction of minority religious groups with the Soviet regime from a material perspective, my thesis a) contributes to a better understanding of the dialogical nature of the relations between authoritarian regimes and religious groups, b) examines the role of materiality in those relations, and c) analyses the mechanisms deployed by Soviet regime in order to control and examine religious communities. The core argument of this thesis is that the materiality and relationality of material religion and of the bureaucratic artefacts introduced by Liquidation Commissions into the religious landscape shaped the perceptions and actions of religious believers and Soviet officials during their struggle over the role and status of religion in Soviet society.
Soviet antireligious policy , Society and Technology Studies , Actor-Network Theory , Religious organisations , Liquidation Commissions , Secularisation , Sacred buildings
Lisnic, D. 2022. Materialising Soviet religions: Liquidation Commissions, sacred buildings and religious communities in 1920’s Moldavia. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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