With the fall of the Soviet regime, Russia underwent a chain of multiple crises and a religious revival. Drawing on the example of this former officially atheist society, the panel explores religion's imaginative and interpretative potential to address the economy and its failures.
The liberalization of religious life in Russia started in the last years of the Soviet regime. It expanded in the context of profound political and economic transformations from 1991 onwards. The introduction of the Russian form of market economy generated a chain of crises to which religion provides explanations and suggests treatments. Some religious groups express harsh criticism, for instance through the promotion of conspiracy theories, while others encourage personal involvement in the market, or offer coping strategies. The market of religious goods and services is itself a by-product of the larger economic system through which the denominations provide for their own material subsistence. Do religious movements share some underpinning imagination in the ways they address the crises and in the ways they manage their own involvement in the market? Or do they diverge, and in what sense? Or is the religious treatment of economic questions a marginal phenomenon? One may argue that Russian capitalism has encouraged a rationalistic bias in society, or has promoted a 'rational maximizer' attitude in the terms of neoclassical economics. But then, how to explain today's bewildering diversity of religious responses to shaking economic upheavals, moreover in a society on which the Soviet state had imposed the rule of official atheism during seventy years? By focusing on post-Soviet Russia, the workshop aspires to explore the interpretative and imaginary potential of religion to address the economy and its failures to create well-being. We invite scholars to engage with different theoretical frames inspired by field-based ethnographic research.