Russia in the Global Culture Wars

Su Lyn Lai Church of Spilled Blood in St Petersburg, Russia

For the last 30 years, the American Christian Right has been exporting the model of the American culture wars to other parts of the world, but only fairly recently has it found a new powerful ally in this cause: Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church. The Russian Orthodox Church’s contacts with Christian Right groups in Europe and in the United States have helped to strengthen ties between the Kremlin and European far-right parties. This has allowed Russia to define its anti-liberal profile in a Christian conservative key that differs from the traditional Orthodox Christian anti-westernism. For Russia the globalized Christian Right is a useful ally. It provides the language and themes for preferring closeness to Russia over an EU association in the countries of the former Soviet Union, or for attacking EU policies on migration and “traditional values” issues. In turn, this has antagonized liberal civil society and political opposition in the new and old EU member states. 

What do the American Christian Right actors stand to gain from the export of the culture wars? What is the political, historical, and sociological background to the new alliances between the American Christian Right, in particular Evangelical groups, and Russian actors? And what are the effects of their conservative norm mobilization in the U.S., in Europe, and in Russia? A two-day workshop at the Berkley Center explored these questions.

The aim of the conference was to bring into conversation researchers from the United States, Europe, and Russia and to explore the role of Russia in the culture wars, drawing on new findings from the University of Innsbruck's research project Postsecular Conflicts, and on insights into the American Christian Right’s global agenda from scholars based in the United States.

This event was co-sponsored by Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and University of Innsbruck's Postsecular Conflicts project.

This event received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (POSEC, grant agreement no. ERC-STG-2015-676804).


Thursday, October 17

1:00 p.m.–1:30 p.m. |  Welcome Reception

1:30 p.m.–2:00 p.m. | Opening Statements
Kristina Stoeckl, University of Innsbruck
José Casanova, Georgetown University
Shaun Casey, Georgetown University

2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. | The Intellectual Genealogy of the Turn to “Traditional Values” in Russia and the United States
Kristina Stoeckl, University of Innsbruck
Seth Dowland, Pacific Lutheran University

4:00 p.m.–4:30 p.m. | Coffee Break

4:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m. | Sexuality and Gender
Aristotle Papanikolaou, Fordham University
Bethany Moreton, Dartmouth University

Friday, October 18

8:30 a.m.–10.30 a.m. | Orthodoxy, Russia and Moral Conservatism
Dmitry Uzlaner, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration
Marlene Laruelle, George Washington University
Sarah Riccardi-Swartz, New York University 

10:30–11:00 a.m. | Coffee Break

11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. | Human Rights
Julia Mourão Permoser, University of Innsbruck 
Pasquale Annicchino, European University Institute 
Shaun Casey, Georgetown University

1:00 p.m.–2:30 p.m.| Lunch

2.30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. | The Globalization of the American Cultural Wars
José Casanova, Georgetown University
James D. Hunter, University of Virginia
Olivier Roy, European University Institute
Clifford Bob, Duquesne University

4:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m. | Reception

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