In nationalism theory, the category ‘religion’ can refer both to an identity attached to a people group, and to an articulated and reasoned value-based position taken by an élite. Even this bifurcation remains imprecise. Populist and nationalist political actors have been charged in recent years with ‘hijacking’ religion as an identity whilst being at odds with members and leaders of religion’s practising communities. Their discourse tends towards values of exclusivity, division, and animosity to ‘the other’. Exploring the case of the relationship between Russian Orthodoxy and Russian nationalism allows a comparison of such nationalist discourse with the nationalism of the Russian Orthodox Church and of celebrated Russian Orthodox philosophers such as Solovev, Berdyaev, and Il’in. This case shines light on the existence of a religio-nationalism that emphases values such as inclusivity and benevolence.
Edwin Bacon is Reader in Comparative Politics and has specialisms in the politics of Russia and of religion, and in political pedagogy. He has published seven books on Russian politics, history, and society, and many articles in peer-reviewed journals. Edwin has taught in universities for over two decades and is a holder of the Birkbeck Excellence in Teaching Award. He also worked briefly as a Senior Research Officer for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and as a Parliamentary Special Adviser to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, the House of Commons. He held a Visiting Fellowship at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki in autumn 2014, is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow of the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Birmingham, and is a member of the international editorial board of Religion, State and Society.