Religion in post-Soviet nation-building: Official mediations and grassroots’ accounts in Belarus
This project analyses the religious component of nation-building in contemporary Belarus and its implications for the development of civil society. Taking into account the specificity of the Belarusian case with its ‘weak’ Belarusian nationalism we reconsider nation-building through the length of religious identity by linking it to national identity and construction of a particular set of (religious, media, civic) institutions and practices. Studying religion in Belarus might help reveal networks and activities that otherwise remain unnoticed for studies of civil society in authoritarian settings.On the theoretical level, our purposeis to problematize the ethnonationalist perspectives that have dominated the presentation of post-Soviet societies, given the supranational character of the studied Christian denominations.On a more applied level, the project aspires to contribute to themedia studies and sociology by examining how the establishment's mediation affects grassroots’ identification strategies and collective action in the highly politically centralised environment of post-Soviet Belarus.The objective of the study is twofold:
- (i) to explore how the establishment-driven nation-building in multi-confessional Belarus affects the identification practices of believers at the grassroots level;
- (ii) to explicate how the intersection of the official and alternative media-led religious‘projects’ link civic and religious identities.
By looking at societal engagement of various religious confessions campaigning for their rights and promoting their visions of desirable socio-political development, the project addresses a range of opportunities to engage in civic activism in Belarus.