"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Orange Revolution

Well do I recall being part of the peaceful gathering on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on a bitterly cold November day in 2004 when many came out to show solidarity with those who were, for days and weeks, in the streets of Kyiv, Lviv, and other towns and cities in Ukraine in support of a new government, free--it was thought at the time--of the machinations, incompetence, and corruption of its predecessor, which had been composed of Soviet-era bosses hastily remade as "democrats."  The government that took over did not bring about the new Jerusalem, but such is the way with all governments of whatever kind: "put not your trust in princes" indeed.

A new scholarly work has come out to analyze what happened during and after the revolution:

Paul J. D'Anieri, Orange Revolution and Aftermath: Mobilization, Apathy, and the State in Ukraine (Woodrow Wilson Center Press)

About this book, the publisher tells us:
In 2004, hundreds of thousands of Ukranian protestors mobilized in the streets of Kyiv against authoritarian rulers who had clearly falsified the Fall elections. The size and efficacy of the Orange Revolution, as the protest became known, surprised political observers -- and even the participants themselves. In the aftermath, many observers concluded that civil society, long thought dead in Ukraine, was alive and well.

After the success of the Orange Revolution, it was widely expected that civil society groups would take an increasingly prominent role in Ukrainian politics, reinvigorating democracy. Yet that influence diminished rapidly, and when the new government also became tainted with corruption, there was no protest or counterattack. This book explores why the influence of civil society groups waned so quickly.

The contributors to this volume probe civil society in Ukraine from a variety of disciplinary perspectives to understand the contest for social mobilization in Ukraine. The essays provide a wealth of new data based on surveys, interviews, documentary analysis, and ethnography.
The Churches in Ukraine played a special role in the revolution, especially the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church which, for many decades, had operated for some as a "surrogate state" and the repository of nationalist aspirations of some Ukrainians, especially Galicians. The role of the Churches in the revolution is addressed in Orange Revolution and Aftermath: Mobilization, Apathy, and the State in Ukraine in chapter 11, "Encompassing Religious Pluralism: The Orthodox Imaginary of Ukraine" by Vlad Naumescu. Because of its attention to the role of the Churches, we will be reviewing Orange Revolution and Aftermath in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies later this year.

Also recently reviewed in Logos are two works of Naumescu: Modes of Religiosity in Eastern Christianity: Religious Processes and Social Change in Ukraine. About this book, the publisher tells us that

this volume offers original insights into the religious transformations taking place in postsocialist western Ukraine. Applying a cognitive theory based on two modes of religiosity, the doctrinal and the imagistic, Vlad Naumescu reveals the mechanisms of reproduction and change that make the local eastern Christian tradition a living tradition of faith. He combines rich ethnographic materials with historical and theological sources to depict a religion in equilibrium between the two modes, maintaining revelation at the core of its doctrinal corpus. He argues that religion is a potential source for social change that empowers people to act upon reality and transform it. With his innovative exploration of the dynamics of an eastern Christian tradition, Naumescu makes a major contribution to the emerging anthropology of Christianity as well as to studies of postsocialism.

Naumescu has also recently authored a second volume:  Churches In-between: Greek Catholic Churches in Postsocialist Europe. About this book, the publisher, Lit Verlag of Berlin, tells us:

Eastern Rite Catholic Churches occupy an ambiguous position between two religious worlds and challenge the idea of a sharp religious and political dichotomy between Eastern and Western Europe. After decades of repression under socialism, the churches known popularly in Central Europe as Greek Catholic have successfully undertaken a process of revitalisation. This has been marked by competition with other churches, both over material properties and over people's souls. How can a Greek Catholic "identity" be recreated? Can these churches provide a distinctive "product" for the new "religious marketplace"? By exploring such questions the contributors to this volume shed fresh light on the social and political shaping of religious phenomena in the era of postsocialism and also on more general issues of belief, practice, transmission and syncretism.

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