In this paper I explore questions of symbolic resistance and liminality in relation to the Inochentite movement in 20th century Romania and Moldova. The Inochentite movement emerged in the first decades of the twentieth century in the Russian Governorate of Podolia and in the Province of Bessarabia, on the territory of contemporary Moldova and Ukraine. The intensely apocalyptic and charismatic movement, which was inspired by the monk Ioan Levizor, was soon portrayed as both religiously heretical and politically subversive and as such was seen as a challenge to the authority of both the Russian Orthodox Church and the Tsarist regime. As an illegal and persecuted religious minority in both Greater Romania and the Soviet Union the movement went underground. However, Inochentism has proved a tenacious presence on the religious landscape, gradually re-emerging into the public domain in the post-Soviet era. Today, various Inochentite groups operate on the margins of mainstream Orthodoxy critiquing the Church from their liminal position.
Inochentism is more or less unique in Moldova, and perhaps in Romania too, in being an enduring ‘home-grown’ religious movement. In this sense it speaks directly to the local social, political and religious context. I will attempt to summarize some important aspects of Inochentite discourse and practice and suggest ways in which micro-historical and anthropological study of Inochentism can help inform our understanding of the emergence of individual agency, new subject positions and pluralism in Moldovan society.