Last Testament Church: Utopian endeavours of the followers of Vissarion
(University of Warsaw)
Paper short abstract:
Presentation is the result of 9-month participant observation fieldwork in the Siberian centre of the Last Testament Church conducted in 2012-13. It will focus on the movement's attempt at establishing a model society of the future based on the eclectic teachings of Vissarion.
Paper long abstract:
I will devote my presentation to Russian new religious movement founded in the beginning of 1990s - community of Vissarion also known as the Last Testament Church. Vissarion's followers, estimated at 4-5 thousand people, migrate to their Siberian "Promised Land" in the south of Krasnoyarski Krai from all parts of Russia, former states of the Soviet Union as well as Western Europe to establish a model society of the future - focused on spiritual development, living in harmony with the natural environment and independent of the global economic system. For the last 20 years the community has gone through different stages of development - from the initial lifestyle strictness to the later more flexible attitude towards the organization of community life. I will focus on the movement's attempt at establishing new quality of social relations based on the eclectic teachings of Vissarion undertaken in the specific context of the post-Soviet Siberian countryside. The presentation is based on the 9-month participant observation fieldwork in the Siberian centre of the Last Testament Church in the years 2012-2013.
Almost heaven: vernacular utopias and the culture of belief