Accepted Paper:

Communal Utopia within nature-based spiritualities in the post-Soviet region: socio-cultural alternatives of Anastasians  


Rasa Pranskevičiūtė-Amoson (Vilnius University)

Paper short abstract:

Paper discusses New Age Anastasia movement and its process of sacralization of nature, utopian visions of prospective heaven on Earth, subcultural daily life and festive activities, which serve as a basis for establishment of alternative social, based in natural space, projects – love spaces.

Paper long abstract:

The paper presents a research into the implementation of environmental and spirituality ideas of alternative communitarian movements through the establishment of quickly spreading nature-based spirituality communities and their settlements in the post-Soviet region. It focuses on the Anastasia "spiritual" movement, classifiable as New Age which emerged in Russia in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and since has spread to East-Central Europe and beyond - concerning expressions of nature-based spirituality in the movement.

In the presentation I will discuss how Anastasian process of sacralization of nature and utopian visions of prospective heaven on Earth serve as a basis for establishment of alternative social, based in natural space, projects - love spaces. Construction of ideal world is being implemented through Anastasian organization and membership, nationalistic and traditionalist ideas, daily life and festive activities. One part of the research has been focused on the relative importance of social and ideological contexts in the construction of the alternative religious identities of Anastasians. The paper also explores the meaning of religious identity and how it influences - and is influenced by - local and global cultures ultimately producing a religious subculture. Particular attention is given to the role of these dynamics in the development of post-Soviet cultural heritage in Eastern Europe and in the communication of Western cultural influences on the religiosity in the region.

Findings are based on data obtained from the fieldwork in 2005-2014, including participant observation research and interviews with respondents in Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic countries.

Panel Reli003
Almost heaven: vernacular utopias and the culture of belief