Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
J. Kapalo
Public Religion and Ambient Faith in the Black Sea Region
Women’s Agency and Domestic Vernacular Religion in 20th century Gagauziya
Oral Presentation
Optional Fields
The paper explores the role that women played in the transformation of local religion in Gagauz villages in Moldova and Ukraine in the 20th century. The Gagauz, a Turkish speaking Orthodox Christian minority, secured wide ranging autonomy from the newly independent Republic of Moldova following a brief armed stand-off. Gagauz identity, upon which the new autonomous region is founded, is complex with both religious and ethno-linguistic dimensions. This paper, which is based on extensive fieldwork in a number of Gagauz villages in both Moldova and Ukraine between 2005 and 2014, presents examples of the ways that women were able to contest state and official religious authority through local vernacular religious practices such as healing, prophecy and textual practices. I argue that the agency of women in the religious field, shaped by the experience of the state repression of religion in the Soviet Union, allowed for a limited but contextually powerful reimagining and deployment of vernacular symbolic resources and folk religious repertoires. In the extreme economic and political uncertainty that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, local religious practices constituted important means of reconciling the new political reality with a changing cosmological frame.
Swiss National Science Foundation