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The Quarterly Journal of St. Philaret’s Institute

ISSN: 2658-7599 (print)
2713-3141 (online)

The Issue of Preserving the Ethnic Diversity of Siberian Indigenous Peoples in the Works of Orthodox Missionaries Dionysius (Khitrov) and Veniamin (Blagonravov)

Natalia Kartasheva, Ph.D. in Culturology, Associate Professor, Head of the Department of Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture Lomonosov Moscow State University
pp. 123–147
DOI: 10.25803/26587599_2021_39_123
This article analyses the ethnocultural aspects of the Russian Orthodox Mission in Eastern Siberia based on texts by the bishop Dionysius (Khitrov) and Archbishop Veniamin (Blagonravov). It looks at the problem of preserving ethnic diversity for the native peoples of Siberia in the context of the personal worldview and missionary methods of prominent Orthodox Church leaders in the second half of the 19th century. The article emphasizes the significance of the ethnocultural issue for the domestic policy in the Russian Empire during the post-reform period, and the existence of different strategies for attaining to national unity, including the idea of religious integration through the spread of Orthodox Christianity. The aim of the study is to identify the varying views of the Siberian mission leaders regarding the preservation of ethnocultural identity for Christianized peoples. In accordance with the aim of the study, the article characterizes the historical context of the phenomenon, outlines the constructivist approach to the definition of the ethnic identity adopted by modern anthropology, examines the texts produced by two leading members of the Orthodox Mission in Siberia, and conducts a comparative analysis of their attitudes towards the preservation of ethnic identity among the newly baptized. As a result of this research, the article outlines modern methodological approaches to the study of the ethnocultural aspect of the Russian Orthodox Mission; the article reveals a considerable divergence in prominent mission members’ views on the preservation of the ethnic diversity for indigenous peoples, and draws conclusions regarding the variability of ethnocultural strategies in the missionary practices of the Russian Orthodox Church in the second half of the 19th century.
Keywords: theology, Orthodox mission, ethnic identity, christianization, indigenous peoples of Siberia, missionary texts, russification

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