Gender, Generation and Identity in Contemporary Russia

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Note on Transliteration and Translation. From paternal authority to brotherhood: Soviet identity myths in transition.

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Us versus them: fantasies of otherness in the construction of post-Soviet identity. Double thinking: negotiating adjustment to societal change. The waning family: gender and generations in post-Soviet society. By then, A. Petrovna discovered Orthodox literature.

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When I start speaking, this sounds understandable to him, and interesting, and familiar. Petrovna felt the need to provide for her family. Petrovna whether her children would like to join the Orthodox classes. Petrovna agreed. During the next few months she helped the staff of the school. The parish rector noticed her efforts and offered her a salaried job in the church shop, which she felt was a sign that her prayers were heard.

She kept insisting until she received his blessing and three years later graduated as an Orthodox pedagogue.

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In , her family moved to a new neighbourhood. She decided to join the parish closer to her new home. I started working with children, but it doesn't work well. Our Father is very talented, he has marvellous education from the Academy, he knows how to deliver a speech, he gives great sermons, he is smart, overall, he is a wonderful man. Both women teachers and priests are involved in evaluating the results of the Orthodox education. Orthodox women teachers and academics actively participate in the Orthodox conference alongside with priests.

At the moment of our conversations, in , she was well known as the Sunday school leader. Petrovna presents her involvement with religious education as the long process of her own upbringing and progressive construction of her self-confidence as a teacher of religion starting at her own home. She listed two priests who gave an impulse to her career by hiring her and blessing her desire to go further, in addition to encouragement from the communist lecturer and her husband. But the moving motivation was hers.

Alena Petrovna overtly claims her area of professional competence. Petrovna positively evaluates her past as a Komsomol activist.

Research Projects on Gender in Transition

Soviet legacies have been instrumental to the establishment of female didactic authority in Orthodoxy. Professional didactic authority and organisational skills in the Komsomol, structurally recognised in Soviet times, have extended to the religious sphere. Luehrmann discusses the enduring effects of Soviet didacticism whose practitioners often found new home in religious organisations.

However she doubts that such skills and habits may efficiently incite the Orthodox zeal. Our research demonstrates that not merely didactic and organisational skills but also the collective representation of female didactic authority rooted in Soviet activism has found its way into Orthodox education, bridging secular and religious contexts and reshaping the ROC's map of gendered authority.


Such teachers are fully aware of the advantage their academic competences and organisational ability give them in parish life and Orthodox education. If disobedience to priestly assignment, illustrated below, is exceptional, again it brings to the fore the secular-religious nexus characteristic of female didactic authority, the secular being conveyed not by a feminist claim, but by an emphasis on professionalism and secular social status. She had accomplished additional education in theology. While she was still a novice in Orthodoxy, she went on a pilgrimage to a famous distant monastery, where she made acquaintances with a young man, who turned out to be a priest, and his mother, who turned out to be school director.

This tragic experience brought Larisa Ivanovna and the young priest's mother together. Soon after the accident L. Ivanovna moved to the school administered by the priest's mother, and this has been her work place since then. Ivanovna, as a graduate of the Theological University and author of numerous publications on Orthodox upbringing, enjoys great authority from the director and this is an additional fact that nourishes her self-assertion and relative independence.

Ivanovna's self-confidence led her to a conflict unusual for an Orthodox believer. She was a person of great energy and power of persuasion — by becoming a believer she became a very active parishioner. Yet, they came into conflict when she refused to fulfil a minor service for the priest — making a copy of two pages. Ivanovna considered the insignificance of the request and its irrelevance to her competences as an infringement on her intellectual authority. The priest interpreted it as a refusal to accomplish his assignment of a task, that is, a blatant act of disobedience.

She then moved to another one, and started to build her position from the beginning. At the time of fieldwork she was already very influential in this second parish community and was engaged in the Sunday school teaching both children and adults. Ivanovna expected higher esteem from the priest and did not hesitate to refuse obedience when the priest's demand meant disregard for her intellectual status.

This case attests to the distinctive impact of female teachers' high social status upon their relationship with priests. Disobedience was the teacher's protest against a priestly assignment that she felt was an insult to her secular authority. If the priest did exercise his ecclesiastical power by expelling the teacher, the latter retained authority in the eyes of the club members, evidence that her area of authority had become relatively autonomous from priestly control.

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  • It also speaks of a relation between authority and agency. The promotion of Orthodox education in highly secular Russia requires from women to master the religious and secular grammars. Assuring this double transferability was crucial for a woman with a high academic status who trained herself in Orthodox obedience, distancing herself from secular morality. But learning religious obedience revealed insufficient for this woman who wanted to work for the expansion of Orthodox education.

    Religious obedience, while deeply lived as a virtue, may take on a particular importance in relation to teachers' authority and agency in the secular world. She converted as a grown up person, in the early s. Her devotion was so compelling that she abandoned her academic life and committed herself to reading the Scriptures. When she met problems while upbringing her son she started exploring the methods of Orthodox upbringing. She asked a priest to pray for her that she could know and follow God's will. When she was offered a position as a director of a Sunday school and was asked to lead the lectures for adults in another parish, she understood it as God's will.

    Because of her engagement in these jobs, E. Antonovna was deprived of her pension and faced the necessity to return to academic work. As in C. This was a challenging situation, since for the last ten years she had been reading only the Holy Scriptures and had given away half of her academic book collection, convinced that science was behind her. An unsettling event definitely persuaded E. Antonovna to return to active university life and combine it with her Orthodox devotion. As a Sunday school teacher she had collected materials for teaching children, which she had done in cooperation with a student, also a Sunday school teacher.

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    Their manuscript won the first prize. This motivated her to publish the book, suitable also for state schools. Soon there was an academic conference on pedagogy where her student co-author presented the book.

    The presentation stimulated a lively discussion among the academic guests.

    Gender, Generation and Identity in Contemporary Russia Gender, Generation and Identity in Contemporary Russia
    Gender, Generation and Identity in Contemporary Russia Gender, Generation and Identity in Contemporary Russia
    Gender, Generation and Identity in Contemporary Russia Gender, Generation and Identity in Contemporary Russia
    Gender, Generation and Identity in Contemporary Russia Gender, Generation and Identity in Contemporary Russia
    Gender, Generation and Identity in Contemporary Russia Gender, Generation and Identity in Contemporary Russia

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