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Confessions in the Soviet Era: Analytical Overview of Historiography

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Confessional scholarship—like the confessions themselves—had a tumultuous experience during the Soviet era. In contrast to burgeoning scholarship on religious history in the West, Soviet historians ignored the religious dimension, at most marginalizing and demonizing religious institutions and believers. Although some Western works sought to fill this gap, the result—quantitatively, not to mention empirically and analytically—could not compensate for the shortfall in the Russia itself. From the mid-1980s, however, that grim picture began to change: politics in the USSR (perestroika) and the “cultural turn” in the West (revalorizing religion and rejecting the theory of “secularization”) generated a revolution in the empirical depth, thematic diversity, and intellectual sophistication of research on confessional history.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of History, Brandeis University,


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