Seminar at Uppsala with Irina Paert

What will the new generation of Orthodox Christians in Russia be like? A survey of some trends within Orthodox pedagogy” with Irina Paert (University of Tartu)

Desecularisation of education is linked discursively with the wider set of problems in contemporary ‘conservative turn’ within the Russian society and politics. The ROC’s fierce battle in promoting religious education within the state schools and controversies in society triggered by this process suggest that there is more to this boring school subject than it seems. The conflation of Orthodox teaching on morality and the official discourses on traditional values, the pronatalist family policies supported by both the state and the church, the imposition of sexual and gender norms, that have been designated as biopolitics –  are all connected through education. This paper will address the ways in which traditional values are applied in the Orthodox pedagogical discourse, pointing out a problematic conflation which occurs between the Orthodox theology and various ideologies (including nationalist constructions of the Russian culture and its traditional morality, conservatism, etc.). The paper is based on the discussion of case-studies, which include some active Orthodox pedagogues and psychologists in present day Russia.

Irina Paert is a senior researcher at the Department of Theology, Univesity of Tartu. She obtained her PhD in Social History from Essex University (UK). She held postdoctoral fellowships and a lectureship in the Universities of Manchester and Bangor. In 2005 she moved to Tallinn where she first worked as researcher at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies before taking the senior researcher position in Tartu. Paert specializes in Russian religious studies, focusing particularly on the history and culture of Old Believers and the Russian Orthodox Church. She is author of two monographs: Old Believers, Religious Dissent and Gender in Russia 1760-1850 (Manchester UP, 2003), and Spiritual Elders: Charisma and Tradition in Russian Orthodoxy (DeKalb, 2010) as well as several articles and book chapters on cultural history. Currently, her research interests are in the history of Orthodoxy (including Old Believers) in Estonia, religious education, and in the role of religion in the contemporary Russian Diaspora in the Baltic.