Dissertation Abstracts

Planting Eastern Orthodox Monasticism in North America: Controversies in Contemporary Religiosity

Author: Kseniya Medvedeva, medvedeva@gsnas.fu-berlin.de
Department: Sociology
University: Freie Universitaet Berlin, Germany, Germany
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. H. Wenzel
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: North America , religion , monasticism , Orthodox Christianity
Areas of Research: Religion , Social Transformations and Sociology of Development , Comparative Sociology


The proposed research intends to discuss the changing aspects of contemporary American religiosity by referring to the group of 19 Eastern Orthodox monasteries in the US and Canada founded by archimandrite Ephraim of Philotheou from Mount Athos. Conservative by their nature, these monasteries play a significant role in religious life in North America. Using methods of participant observation, interviews and document analysis, I plan to examine ethnographically and sociologically the specifics of Athonite movement in North America, its innovative potential and its contribution to contemporary American religious and secular spheres, its role in the liberal vs. conservative debate. By doing this, I intend to study modern North American monastic life, its role and functions in contemporary post-secular society; to elicit reasons for people to become monastics in contemporary America; to study specifics of socialization of new members of the monastic community, the role of religious disciplinary and self-disciplinary practices. Finally, I plan to discuss the specifics of adaptation of new religious tradition in diaspora, in particular to figure out factors that make an outsider religious tradition legitimate in hosting culture, strategies of adaptation to local religious situation, factors that influence the shifting boundaries of a religious organization in diaspora, the role of cultural context in this shift.

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