2016 | Vol 7 | No 21 | 55-95
Article title

Russia and Secularization: A Conceptualization of the Field of Research

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RESEARCH OBJECTIVE: The purpose of the article is to investigate the problem of success/failure of the complex process of secularization in Russia in the context of historical developments, especially the Reformation(s), and to propose a new conceptualization of the field of research. Within the scope of investigation, secularization is understood as the process of incessant production of knowledge that leads to progressive differentiation and distinction of various aspects of society on the level of macrostructures. THE RESEARCH PROBLEM AND METHODS: There is a need to assess anew the linkage between the Reformation(s) as a prolonged process of questioning of all cultural formations (epistemes) and the particular historical settings in which they manifested themselves. According to model advanced by Bruno Latour, it can be said that Reformation(s) redefined the procedure of attaining knowledge by breaking the logic of procession and instituting the logic of network. Secularization became one of the key modules of reconstituting the knowledge/power relation within different epistemes. Russia has often been perceived as immutable and culturally mute entity “unto itself,” untouched by modernity, separate from the dominant Western episteme. This article presents a cognitivist perspective, based on the model of a double helix. It assumes the legitimacy of different narrations of modernity, which may differ in terms of practices of translation, but are still the active actors of the dynamic process of modern continuity and change, as exemplified by trajectories of Reformation(s). THE PROCESS OF ARGUMENTATION: First, the article defines the scope of investigation of secularization as the production of knowledge. Then it assesses where and how the “secular parable,” whose agent was Reformation(s), performed on large discursive fields of modernity – including its problematic relationship with the theory of modernization. Subsequently, the model of a double helix is presented as a heuristic tool for understanding the way by which the translation of Russia within the framework of modernity has taken place. Alternative models, like Enlightenment, Euroasianism (Gumilev, Dugin) are discussed within the context of the notion of altermodernity, as formulated by Nicolas Bourriaud. Then, the article assesses, in what way secularization in Russia, understood as a “cultural program” (S.N. Eisenstadt) had formed, over centuries, a heterogeneous text, responding to various temporalities. RESEARCH RESULTS: The result is a proposal of a new conceptualization of the field of research as an interdisciplinary reading of mutuality of relations between Russia and secularization as a continuous translation of the structures of thought and knowledge of modernity in the contextual, historically grounded praxis of power/knowledge dynamics. CONCLUSIONS, INNOVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS: Taking a cue from Polanyi’s “personal knowledge,” the research has aimed at depicting a new cognitive perspective that seriously takes into consideration the interdisciplinarity of knowledge. Research on secularization and research on Russia tend to form two different spheres of scholarly activities, often weighted down by stereotypes. The stereotype about secularization is that it refers mainly to decreasing the religious aspect of social life, which development is associated with the emergence of modernity. As for Russia, the stereotype is that it does not participate in modernity at all. The article proposes a more productive way of relating Russia and secularization as a process of translating dispositifs of modernity in a contextual manner, that takes into consideration political dispositions, cultural traits, institutional practices and discontinuities of social development.
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