Main Theme

The Reception of Buddhism in Russia and the “Russian Asiaphiles” in the Late 19th — early 20th Century

The article discusses the main factors and trends of Buddhism’s reception in Russia. The author highlights both internal sociocultural and religious interest within the Russian intelligentsia, and the interest to cultures of India, Tibet and China in the context of the political events of the time.

Avalokiteśvara Cult and Competing Nationalisms of the Sino-Tibetan Borderland

The article discusses the emergence of Tibetan nationalism in Sino-Tibetan borderland in the period after the fall of the Qing Empire in 1911 and untill the incorporation of Tibet into the PRC in 1951. It argues that the cult of the Bodhisattva of compassion Avalokiteśvara was a key spiritual root of the Tibetan religious nationalism, associating Tibet with the state of the Dalai Lamas.

Buddhism in the Modern Age: Introduction

Invisible Partners and Strategic Information: Channeling as “Semiotic Ideology”

A significant aspect of religious practices and representations is the way information is handled. If we understand religion as a form of imagination assigning human properties to nonhuman agents (and vice versa), we would expect that the rules of communication and interaction with such agents would play a special role in religious culture. The concept of “semiotic ideologies” by Webb Keane is one of the analytical tools that allow us studying the norms, expectations and rules of such communications.

The Spiritual Version of History as Discursive Order of Political Eschatology: Theology of Ritual in Contemporary Orthodox Historiosophy and Conspirology

The article examines methods of argumentation used for constructing eschatological historical narratives in the discursive field of Russian Orthodoxy. The main presupposition of the analysis is that the essential discursive claim of a religion which has to exist and survive in secular society is that a religious person and especially religious expert can and even must see the deep meaning of historical events, which is not accessible for non‑religious individuals.

Semiotic Vigilance and Cultivation of Sincerity in Catholic Practice of Vocational Discernment

In contemporary Catholicism, the reflection of faithful on the way of life or vocation implies the acquisition of interpretative skills that allow to define God’s will with a degree of certainty. The process of vocational discernment constitutes a hermeneutic work of a Catholic with his or her inner states — consciousness, emotions — and various outer shreds of evidence indicating that this specific life project is precisely what God is calling for.

VseiaSvetnaia Gramota: Kabbalistic Hermeneutics and Utopian Comparative Studies

Post‑Soviet cultural landscape is characterized by considerable popularity of nationalistic ideas and narratives applying conspiratorial explanatory models and suggesting various versions of “alternative history”, which are framed, in particular, within amateur concepts of language — a sort of cryptolinguistics. This discourse is illustrated here with the case of the so‑called “Vseiasviatnaia gramota” (“World‑ wide Writing”), a teaching, according to which an esoteric Slavic alphabet “encodes” the entire universe.

Body and Sociality in New Age Pilgrimage

The paper explores the interaction with sacred places in New Age pilgrimage. There is a tendency in social theory of religion to define New Age spirituality as individualized form of religiosity in accordance with the notion of “private religion”. Such an interpretation is based on the priority of personal beliefs and narratives upon bodily aspect of religious experience and the ways of reflecting about it.

Technology and Its Representation as a Source of Religious Experience for Old Believers of Yenisei Region

The paper discusses an ambivalent interaction between Chasovennye Old Believers of Yenisei region and modern technologies. Old Believers have to rely on certain technologies and equipment for survival in severe conditions of taiga and mountains. Nevertheless, technology is strongly associated with Antichrist and signifies his imminent arrival. The paper is focused on the intensity of usage of certain technological devices by the Old Believers, and how these devices are interpreted in eschatological terms.

“Semiotic Ideologies”, Mediation and Contemporary Anthropology of Religion

This is an introduction to the current special issue that follows up a seminar addressing one of the popular concepts in today’s anthropology of religion — Webb Keane’s concept of “semiotic ideologies.” This approach, in contrast to traditional semiotics, problematizes not the process of denotation and deciphering as such but rather the explicit representations implied with this process.