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Paradoxes of religious freedom and repression in (post-)Soviet contexts

Pelkmans, Mathijs (2014) Paradoxes of religious freedom and repression in (post-)Soviet contexts. Journal of Law and Religion, 29 (3). 436 - 446. ISSN 0748-0814

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Identification Number: 10.1017/jlr.2014.23


The religious revival that followed the collapse of the USSR provides an excellent opportunity to compare the dynamics of projects of religious freedom with those of religious repression. Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Georgia and Kyrgyzstan, this article documents the contradictory effects that both repressive and liberal policies and laws have on religious expression. Thus, while Soviet anti-religious policies undeniably caused much suffering and hardship, religious repression also contributed to an intensification of religious experience among certain Muslim and evangelical groups. And while religious freedom laws expanded the scope for public religious organization and expression, they also produced new inequalities between religious groups, as the cases of Georgia and Kyrgyzstan demonstrate. Ultimately, the article shows that the effects of liberal and repressive laws are far from straightforward and need to be analyzed in relation to the social context in which they are applied.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
K Law > K Law (General)
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2015 13:58
Last Modified: 24 Aug 2021 23:14

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