Socialist Churches: Radical Secularization and the Preservation of the Past in Petrograd and Leningrad, 1918 1988 (Hardback)
  • Socialist Churches: Radical Secularization and the Preservation of the Past in Petrograd and Leningrad, 1918 1988 (Hardback)
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Socialist Churches: Radical Secularization and the Preservation of the Past in Petrograd and Leningrad, 1918 1988 (Hardback)

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£44.50
Hardback 440 Pages / Published: 16/12/2016
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In Russia, legislation on the separation of church and state in early 1918 marginalized religious faith and raised pressing questions about what was to be done with church buildings. While associated with suspect beliefs, they were also regarded as structures with potential practical uses, and some were considered works of art. This engaging study draws on religious anthropology, sociology, cultural studies, and history to explore the fate of these "socialist churches," showing how attitudes and practices related to them were shaped both by laws on the preservation of monuments and anti-religious measures. Advocates of preservation, while sincere in their desire to save the buildings, were indifferent, if not hostile, to their religious purpose. Believers, on the other hand, regarded preservation laws as irritants, except when they provided leverage for use of the buildings by church communities. The situation was eased by the growing rapprochement of the Orthodox Church and Soviet state organizations after 1943, but not fully resolved until the Soviet Union fell apart. Based on abundant archival documentation, Catriona Kelly's powerful narrative portrays the human tragedies and compromises, but also the remarkable achievements, of those who fought to preserve these important buildings over the course of seven decades of state atheism. Socialist Churches will appeal to specialists, students, and general readers interested in church history, the history of architecture, and Russian art, history, and cultural studies.

Publisher: Northern Illinois University Press
ISBN: 9780875807430
Number of pages: 440
Weight: 726 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 38 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"Bringing together a wide range of sources and the author's intimate knowledge of St. Petersburg history, this study is a pleasure to read and can form an excellent bridge for specialists in twentieth-century cultural, urban, and religious history who wish to understand how Soviet Russia fits into transnational trends."
--American Historical Review

"This is a major contribution to the field; there is no similar work. It opens a new lens for us to understand the Soviet Union and also complements work on church history, historic preservation, and city planning. Kelly engages extensively with the literature in all of those fields and manages to pack an incredible amount of detail into a highly readable and engaging text."
--Karl Qualls, author of From Ruins to Reconstruction: Urban Identity in Soviet Sevastopol after World War II

"This manuscript offers a richly detailed study of churches in St. Petersburg-Leningrad over some eight decades, with the focus on policy and its implementation with respect to Russian Orthodox Churches. The work draws on an impressive source base--oral history as well as an array of archival and printed sources, much of it local. The account offered here adds a valuable new perspective on the battle between partocrats and preservationists, with fascinating material on the resistance by clergy and lay believers such policies as the confiscation of church valuables and closing of parish churches."
--Gregory Freeze, Brandeis University

"Kelly clearly outlines the balancing act that officials undertook between state atheism and religious freedom, including employing inaction that achieved secularist goals through lack of financial support for repair. The work effectively challenges the assumption that Soviet Russia was entirely hostile to religious belief and practice."
--Publishers Weekly

"One of the major strengths of Kelly's book is in this chronological scope, which allows her to narrate an entire history of the Soviet project to eradicate religion and the contradictory process that stemmed from this effort.... Kelly's story is remarkably researched,
packed full of insights, and highly readable." -Journal of Modern History

"Catriona Kelly, a recognized expert on St. Petersburg, has written an insightful and well-contextualized study of the diverse fortunes of the churches of this city during the Soviet period. Having scoured the archives and mastered the secondary sources, she has also provided a very rich bibliography as well as notes that reward reading." - Journal of Church and State

"The book illuminates a neglected aspect of the history of a city and its life, and of the religious communities that sought to survive under an uncongenial regime." - Slavonic and East European Review

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