Russia's ever-expanding imperial boundaries encompassed diverse peoples and religions. Yet Russian Orthodoxy remained inseparable from the identity of the Russian empire-state, wich at different times launched conversion campaigns not only to "save the souls" of animists and brind deviant Orthodox groups into the mainstream, but also to convert the empire's numerous Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Catholics, and Uniates. This book is the first to investigate the role of religious conversion in the long history of Russian state building.
How successful were the Church and the state in proselytizing among religious minorities? How were the concepts of Orthodoxy and Russian nationality shaped by the religious diversity of the empire? What was the impact of Orthodox missionary efforts on the non-Russian peoples, and how did these peoples react to religious pressure? In chapets that explore these and other questions, this book provides geographical coverage from Poland an dEuropean Russian to the Cacasus, Central Asia, Siberia, and Alaska.
The editors' instruction and conclusion place the twelve original essays in broad historical context and suggest patterns in Russian attitudes toward religion that range from attempts to forge a homogeneous identity to tolerance of complexity and diversity.