Religious Revival in Tajikistan: The Soviet Legacy Revisited

Title: Religious Revival in Tajikistan: The Soviet Legacy Revisited
Authors: Thibault, Hélène
Date: 2014
Abstract: This dissertation proposes a political reading of the religious revival taking place in Tajikistan following the country’s independence in 1991. It considers the impact of the Soviet legacy on the place of religion in Tajik society and on different modes of religiosity. It also highlights the continuities between the Soviet and post-Soviet eras and the porous boundaries between the religious and secular realms in Tajikistan. First, the thesis describes the specificities of the Soviet secularization process and emphasizes the holistic character of the Soviet ideology. I suggest that the secularization of Central Asia should be understood not as the complete eradication of religion but as the societies’ accommodation to assertive secular policies, which produced a certain understanding of the place of religion in society. The research then looks at the resilience of Soviet values within both institutional and discursive traditions, as well as within individuals’ perspectives on religion. This dissertation avoids reifying the state and accounts for the great diversity of state actors’ strategies and interests as well as within communities. Finally, drawing upon extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Northern Tajikistan, the research depicts the religious revival from a local perspective by addressing the religious experiences of born-again Muslims. I suggest that Islamic values offset the Soviet holistic ideology, which can be explained by the affinities of religious and Soviet moral codes. The research also shows that increasing levels of religiosity contribute to social tensions around the definition of new moral standards in an uncertain socio-economic environment.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -