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Together and Apart: The Russian Orthodox Church, the Russian Empire, and Orthodox Missionaries in Alaska, 1794–1917 *

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Addressing Russian Orthodox missions in the Alaskan periphery of the Russian Empire, this article discusses the flexibility of Russian Orthodox missionaries in adapting concepts of Orthodoxy and Russianness to the circumstances of their mission in Alaska and to their individual experiences there. Consulting a range of missionary writings from 1794–1917, including reports, journals, letters, and articles in church periodicals, Murray assesses varying interpretations and methods of promoting the civilizing mission, christianization, and russification over the long nineteenth century. Efforts in education and promoting moral standards were vital to the missions but always incorporated respect for the native culture. Recognizing the importance of this periphery even after the sale of Alaska to the United States in 1867, the missionaries continued to perceive the converted Alaskan communities as tied to Russian Orthodox culture and identity and their educational and moral efforts as essential to the construction of good citizens for the new political power.

Affiliations: 1: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,


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