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527 Ab Imperio, 3/2006 Theodore R. WEEKS Ricarda Vulpius, Nationalisierung der Religion. Russifizierungspolitik und ukrainische Nationsbildung , 1860–1920 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005). 475 pp. (=Forschungen zur osteuropäischen Geschichte, Bd. 64). Maps, Bibliography , Index. ISBN: 3-447-05275-9. Few would dispute the link between religion and national feeling – in particular before the twentieth century – but the actual nature of this link often remains vague and unexamined. The central task that Ricarda Vulpius sets herself in her book, Nationalisierung der Religion, is to examine and explicate this link. The book takes as its subject the Orthodox clergy in the “Ukrainian ” provinces (from Chernihiv to Podillia, Volhynia to Katerynoslav, roughly speaking) from the eve of the Great Reforms to the end of the Civil War. Among the topics taken on by Vulpius are clerical education (and its national element), the controversy of Bible translations into Ukrainian, concepts of “collective identity” among Russophile and Ukrainophile clergy, and the post-1917 struggle for and against an explicitly UkrainianAutocephalic Orthodox Church. Throughout, the work is well argued, extremely well documented, and compelling. Vulpius makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the complex interaction between “Russian,” “Ukrainian,” and religious identities. Vulpius begins her book with a marvelous background chapter presenting a capsule history of the Ukrainian (to use the author’s designation ; one could equally have written “southern Russian” but of course neither term is without its national baggage) dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church. Vulpius argues that a consistent russificatory policy was followed in the region, in part simply by using and spreading the Russian language in church schools and sermons (obviously not in the liturgy), and partly by the installation of clergy from Central Russia in these provinces. Vulpius concludes that the Russian government pursued a “massive Instrumentalisierung der orthodoxen Religion für russischnationale Belange,” (P. 115) but that this policy was successful only in the three Southwestern provinces (Volhynia, Podillia, Kyiv). Vulpius further develops this argument in a detailed chapter on the controversy over a translation of the Bible into Ukrainian. She begins by stating that the development of Ukrainian culture into a fully fledged national culture was “zunächst eine Entwicklung mit offenem Ausgang” rather like the development of Welsh culture in Britain or Provençal in France. This may or may not be true – the power 528 Рецензии/Reviews of the Russian state to assimilate was certainly much weaker than that of France of Britain – but it can at least be argued. But what role would a Bible translation play in this process? Vulpius argues that by forbidding the publication of the Bible in Ukrainian, the Russian government aimed to stifle the development of Ukrainian high culture. So far, so good. But her repeated claims for the centrality of a Bible translation for the development of national culture are drawn almost exclusively from the Protestant experience and are thus not entirely convincing. Neither the French, Spaniards, nor Russians (to take just three prominent nationalities) regularly read the Bible in their native tongue (as noted on P. 124, only in 1858 was the prohibition of publishing the Bible in Russian lifted), and one can hardly doubt the existence of “national feeling” among them. Vulpius further claims that there was an “überragende Interesse der [Ukrainian] Bevölkerung,” but the example she cites derives from an intellectual’s memoirs. It would be interesting to know more about the tens of thousands of copies printed in 1906–1907: did they reach the Ukrainian countryside? While Ukrainian intellectuals may have thought the Bible publication central for the development of national feeling , one may question that belief or at least demand more proof. Identity is always a tricky and slippery term and Vulpius promises to present neither a Russia-centered imperial history nor a teleological story of Ukrainian development. While she fulfills her pledge in most regards, ultimately the Ukrainian teleology wins out. Certainly, “russkii” as used by Orthodox clergy did not necessarily mean Great Russian. But it is often less clear that “Ukrainian” was really meant, as the author tends to insist. Then there is the issue of “multiple identity.” Surely, as many earlier scholars have pointed out, national identities are seldom entirely exclusivist...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2164-9731
Print ISSN
2166-4072
Pages
pp. 527-531
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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