"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).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Religion and Russian Foreign Policy

Last weekend, while at the fantastic ASEC conference at Ohio State, I listened to Lucien Frary present on his research into the role of Orthodoxy in shaping Russian foreign policy in the nineteenth century, especially vis-à-vis the Ottoman Empire and its many Orthodox Christians, for whom Russia felt some solicitude. The role of religion in Russian politics and policy continues to come in for fresh examination, including now in a forthcoming book by Alicja Curanovi: The Religious Factor in Russia's Foreign Policy (Routledge Contemporary Russia and Eastern Europe Series, 2012, 400pp.).

About this book, the publisher says that it
examines how religion interacts with Russian foreign policy, arguing that religion is an important and neglected factor in shaping Russia’s outlook towards international relations. It surveys the importance of religion in Russian social life - past and present - and considers the range of attitudes which are affected by religion – such as Russian nationalism, notions of Slavic solidarity, the divine mission of Russian Orthodox civilisation, Russian imperialism, and Russia’s special approach towards Islam. The book discusses how religious organizations, especially the Russian Orthodox Church, operate in international relations, pursuing, through ‘religious diplomacy’ their own interests and those of the Russian state; explores how religious ideas and culture linked to religion impinge on Russian attitudes and identity, and thereby affect policy; and demonstrates how policy influenced by religion impacts on Russian foreign policy in practice in a wide range of examples, including Russia’s relations with other Orthodox countries, non-orthodox Western countries, Muslim countries, Israel and the Vatican.

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