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Creating a Religious Community in Siberia

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The Cultural Politics of Archbishop Nektarii of Tobolsk

image of Canadian-American Slavic Studies

This article explores how Nektarii, the third archbishop of Siberia and Tobolsk (1636–1640), contributed to the creation of a lasting Russian Orthodox community in his diocese by manipulating traditional Muscovite social rituals and the Russian Orthodox practice of venerating miracle-working icons. Challenging the traditional view that the conversion of Siberia was guided primarily by Muscovite imperial policy, Thyrêt instead focuses on local religious developments that were initiated by the Siberian hierarch in order to deal with obstreperous government officials and the unruly flock of his border diocese. The article shows how Nektarii creatively established his ecclesiastical authority in Tobolsk and laid the foundation for a community following a regulated Christian life in Siberia by connecting his arrival in Tobolsk with an impressive ceremonial entrance that was styled after royal welcoming rituals and by engineering the cult of the first Siberian miracle-working icon, the image of the Virgin of Abalak.

Affiliations: 1: Kent State University


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