EXC 2060 B3-43 - The “newly baptized” in the Tsarist empire of the 18th and early 19th century

in Process
Funding Source
DFG - Cluster of Excellence
Project Number
EXC 2060/1
  • Description

    The project uses the official category of the "newly baptized" to examine the relationship between imperial rule, religious ascription, and concepts of collective identity in the tsarist empire of the 18th and early 19th centuries. The core of the project consists of studies on three selected villages of "newly baptized" people who adhered to the Muslim, Buddhist, and shamanist faiths before their forced Christianization.
    The project aims to address the fundamental question for empire studies of the tension between how empires sought to establish greater uniformity across the empire and, as in this case, used religion for civilizing missions, while at the same time, for colonial reasons, using categories such as the "newly baptized" to maintain differences with the dominant ethnic group and thus possibly provide impetus for religiously divergent tendencies.
    In addition, the project can be expected to provide insights into the extent to which differences among "newly baptized" depending on their prior affiliation with Islam, Buddhism, or shamanism helped to promote or hinder their integration into the Russian Orthodox-dominated majority society. What role did prior religious affiliation play in their willingness to integrate, and what was the role in this of other members of the ethnic groups of the "newly baptized" who remained in their respective religions?
    Finally, one goal of the project is to investigate the question of how sustainable and effective the imperially controlled perpetuation of difference was despite the general striving for more uniformity, and to what extent precisely this policy promoted designs for a separate collective identity among the variously shaped groups of "newly baptized" and encouraged a "relapse" into previous religious affiliations.
    The insight into how the Orthodox tsarist empire dealt with religious otherness and the reactions of members of formerly different religious communities makes it possible to bring the Russian Empire out of its niche existence in the general historiography of empire and to open it up for comparative and transnational research on the thematic field of civilization policy, colonialism, and religious diversity.
  • Persons