CASI RESEARCH SEMINAR: “Post-Soviet Central Eurasia’s New Religious Landscapes: A View from Tatarstan”

CASI RESEARCH SEMINAR: “Post-Soviet Central Eurasia’s New Religious Landscapes: A View from Tatarstan”

October 18, 2017

SPEAKER: Matthew Derrick, Humboldt State University
Abstract: Religion has emerged as a powerful social and political force in the post-Soviet space, particularly in the independent states of Central Asia and the Muslim-majority autonomous regions of the Russian Federation. This talk examines the so-called religious revival among Muslims of post-Soviet Tatarstan, Russia, showing how changing political-territorial circumstances over the past quarter century have impacted the meaning and social expression of Islam in that region. Two approaches to the study of Islam in the post-Soviet realm are explored: first is a critical reading of cultural landscape, in particular focusing on new monumental mosques on sites of narration and performance of preferred understandings of religious expression; and second is an examination of the role played by institutions, in this case the region’s Muslim Spiritual Board, play in communicating and reinforcing “official” notions of Islam.
Bio: Matthew Derrick is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at Humboldt State University. He earned a doctorate degree in Geography, as well as two master’s degrees—the first in Geography, the second in Russian and East European Studies—from the University of Oregon. Drawing on multiple years of intensive fieldwork in Kazan, as well as other cities of Russia, the bulk of his scholarship investigates the relationship between territory and group identity, in particular addressing how post-Soviet Russia’s political-territorial transformation has influenced the social expression of religion in Tatarstan and other Muslim-majority regions of the federation. He is the co-author of the 2016 edited volume Questioning Post-Soviet. Among the titles of his other recent publications are “Territoriality and the Muslim Spiritual Boards of Russia,” “Islam as a Source of Unity and Division in Eurasia,” “The Tension of Memory: Reclaiming the Kazan Kremlin,” and “Containing the Umma? Islam and the Territorial Question.” He is a two-time visiting fellow at the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC.
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