The formation and contestation of Molokan identities and communities: the Australian experience

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis



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[Truncated abstract] Molokans are a Russian sectarian community that has been a transnational diasporic community since their exile from southern Russia in 1839. During the 1839 exodus they were relocated to Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. These countries make up a region referred to by Molokans as Transcaucasia located in and around the Caucasus Mountains. A further migration to Turkmenistan followed in 1889. Since that time, Molokans have settled in Iran, the United States of America, Mexico, Australia and Brazil. The colonies in Brazil and Mexico have disbanded with members re-joining Molokan communities in the United States of America and Australia. The communities remain in contact with one another and with various Molokan communities still existing in the Russian Soviet Socialist Federal Republic. Molokans are characterised by a religious structure of lay ministers and elders in a traditional, patriarchal social community. They are a collectivity of churches (there is no hierarchy between the churches) and sub-groups who practise varying degrees of adherence to Molokan dogma. They are a millenarian, charismatic religious community similar to Pentecostals and Anabaptists with the exception that they have ceased to evangelise and have become ‘closed’ communities practising endogamy. Given their closed structure, relatively little is known about this group in mainstream society . . . Spirituality, in the form of prophecy, healing, and the shared expression of religious ecstasy (rejoicing in the Holy Spirit) provides a sense of communitas that helps to bind the communities. Persecution in Russia and in the United States of America promoted mistrust of outsiders and contributed to the closure of social boundaries. Interventionist and reform activities in both Russia and the United States of America reinforced the belief that social closure was the only way to maintain cultural continuity. Their shared history of migration and persecution contributes to the building of a core community identity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2006

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