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New Martyrs, Nationalism, and Moral Conservatism in Contemporary Russia and Cyprus — Dr Victoria Fomina
Episode 130th June 2021 • Religion and Global Challenges • Cambridge Interfaith Programme
00:00:00 00:43:50

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The first in a series of episodes on the politics of martyrdom in which we consider how religious and spiritual ideas about self-sacrifice animate contemporary social movements, political ideas, and moral imaginaries. In this episode, social anthropologist Dr Victoria Fomina (University of Toronto) discusses the rise of new martyr cults in the Christian Orthodox world, and how these articulate with a rise of nationalist politics, an admiration of militarist values, and the appeal of moral conservatism. 


Dr Victoria Fomina is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. She received her doctorate in sociology and social anthropology from Central European University. Her research interests include anthropology of religion and nationalism, moral conservatism, postsocialist economic transformation, and grassroots political activism. She has carried out research in Russia and Cyprus, investigating the role the practices of commemoration and new martyr cults play in the recent surge of nationalist mobilization in the two countries. Her book project, Land of Heroes and Martyrs: Public Commemoration, Moral Conservatism, and the Making of Russia’s New Military-Patriotic Culture, examines the transformation of Russian nationalism since the 1990s through the lens of the contested cult of soldier Evgenii Rodionov beheaded in Chechen captivity in 1996. Drawing on interviews with clerics, lay parishioners, artists, and nationalist activists engaged in promotion of this new martyr cult, the book traces the development of the new, memory-centered conservative public sphere and reveals the moral imagination driving the patriotic revival in Russia.

Music: Lobo Lobo by Blue Dot Sessions; Russian Dance by Yair Yona

Further Readings

  • Atran, Scott. "ISIS is a Revolution." Aeon Essays, recuperado el 8 (2015).
  • Christensen, Karin Hyldal. The Making of the New Martyrs of Russia: Soviet Repression in Orthodox Memory. Routledge, 2017.
  • Christou, Miranda. "A Double Imagination: Memory and Education in Cyprus." Journal of Modern Greek Studies 24, no. 2 (2006): 285-306.
  • Efthymiou, Stratis Andreas. Nationalism, Militarism and Masculinity in Post-Conflict Cyprus. Springer, 2019.
  • Fomina, Victoria. “Between Heroism and Sainthood: New Martyr Evgenii Rodionov as a Moral Model in Contemporary Russia.” History and Anthropology 29, no. 1 (2018): 101-120.  
  • Oushakine, Serguei Alex. The Patriotism of Despair: Nation, War, and Loss in Russia. Cornell University Press, 2011.




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