Kaarina Aitamurto

Doctor of Philosophy
University of Helsinki
Russian and Eurasian Studies (Aleksanteri Institute)

Kaarina Aitamurto is the Head of Research Training at the Aleksanteri Institute at the University of Helsinki. Her research interests include Russian nationalism and the governance of minority religions. Aitamurto is the author of  Paganism, Traditionalism, Nationalism: Narratives of Russian Rodnoverie (Routledge, 2016) and theco-editor of the Modern Pagan and Native Faith Movements in Central and Eastern Europe (Ashgate, 2013) as well as Religion, Expression, and Patriotism in Russia: Essays on Post-Soviet Society and the State (Ibidem-verlag, 2019).

Marina Alexandrova

Senior Lecturer – PhD, UT Austin
Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies
The University of Texas at Austin
2505 University Avenue, Stop F3600
Burdine Hall 452
Austin, TX 78712

Marina received her MA in English from Saratov State University, and her PhD in Comparative Literature (Russian and Spanish American Literatures) from the University of Texas at Austin. Dr Alexandrova’s current research interests include international modernism and avant-garde, Russian radical and revolutionary movements, and spirituality in Imperial Russia, especially the spread of Western esoteric thought and Eastern philosophies in the late 19th century. As part of this ongoing research project, she published a book chapter entitled From Christ to Krishna: Tolstoy and Eastern Philosophies in Critical Insights: Leo Tolstoy (Salem Press, 2017). In the fall of 2020, she will teach her new course, Tsars and Mystics, examining (un)Orthodox spiritual practices and unusual confessors of Russian rulers from Ivan the Terrible to Nicholas the Bloody. Recently, Dr Alexandrova shared her expertise in Russian Imperial history as an onscreen expert for the acclaimed docudrama The Last Czars. As a visiting professor at Université Paris Nanterre during spring 2020, Dr Alexandrova is currently teaching two graduate seminars and conducting research for her book about Mme Blavatsky’s contested place in Russian culture.

Joan Steffy Channon

Ph.D. Saybrook Institute
Restaurant Owner
Bamboo Restaurant & Gallery
Hawi, Hawaii 96719

Together with a group of San Francisco associates, Joan was one of the earliest Citizen Diplomats working with US-Soviet relations. She was executive assistant to Jim Hickman at the Esalen Institute US-USSR Exchange program which fostered numerous initiatives including bringing astronauts and cosmonauts together and broadcasting the first international concert from the US Festival in California to Moscow. She was co-founder with Cynthia Lazaroff of the US-USSR Youth Exchange Program which promoted interactions between youths including pen pan exchanges, and brought teens together to climb Mt. Elbrus in the Caucasus mountains.  Joan is an intrepid adventurer and is the first Western woman to see the Kongka Rizumgonga range in Tibet, and she traveled 1600 miles down the Amazon River in a banana boat with five Indians. At present she splits her time between Mexico and Hawaii, where she owns and manages a happy restaurant.


Maria Engström

Associate Professor of Russian Language and Literature
Department of Modern Languages, Slavic Languages
Uppsala University
Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3 L, Box 636
751 26 Uppsala, Sweden

Maria Engström is an Associate Professor of Russian Language and Literature at Uppsala University, Sweden. Her research focuses on contemporary Russian neoconservative intellectual milieu and its ‘occulture’ roots (The Iuzhinskii Circle), neocosmism and post-Soviet utopian imagination, imperial aesthetics in contemporary literature and art, and the role of the Orthodox Church in contemporary Russian politics. Engström’s recent publications include: Telluro-Cosmic Imperial Utopia and Contemporary Russian Art (In The Post-Soviet Politics of UtopiaLanguage, Fiction and Fantasy in Modern Russia, edited by Mikhail Suslov and Per-Arne Bodin, 2019); Recycling der Gegenkultur Die neue Ästhetik der ‘Zweiten Welt (Osteuropa 5/2019); Visualizing the Conservative Revolution: Alternative Globalization and Aesthetic Utopia of ‘Novorossiia’ (2018); Digital Orthodoxy: Mediating Post-Secularity in Russia (2015, co-edited); Contemporary Russian Messianism and New Russian Foreign Policy (2014).

Boris Falikov

Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Russian State University for the Humanities
Miusskaia ploshad’ 6/2
125993 Moscow, Russia

Dr Boris Falikov is associate professor at the Center of Religious Studies, RSUH, Moscow. His books (in Russian) are Neohinduism and Western Culture (Moscow: Nauka Publishing House, 1994); Cults and Culture. From Elena Blavatskaya to Ron Hubbard (Moscow: RSUH Publishing House, 2007); Occultism, Oriental Religions and the Art of the 20th Century (NLO Publishing House, 2017).

Juliane Fürst

Senior Research Fellow
Head of the department ‘Communism and Society’
Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History

Juliane Fürst is head of the department ‘Communism and Society’ at the Centre of Contemporary History at Potsdam and a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bristol. She has just completed a monograph on the culture and history of the Soviet Hippie movement titled Flowers through Concrete: Explorations in the Soviet Hippieland, forthcoming with OUP in 2020. She is also the author of Stalin’s Last Generation: Soviet Post-War Youth and the Emergence of Late Socialism and the editor of Dropping Out of Socialism: Alternative Spheres in the Soviet Bloc and The Cambridge History of Communism, Vol.III.

Dmitry Galtsin

Researcher at Rare Book Department
Russian Academy of Science Library

Dmitry is a researcher at Rare Book Department of Russian Academy of Science Library (Biblioteka Akademii Nauk, BAN) in Saint Petersburg. He graduated from History faculty of Petrozavodsk State University in 2005 and earned a Ph.D. degree in history from Saint Petersburg History Institute, Russian Academy of Science in 2009. In 2011 – 2012 he was a Fulbright fellow at John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. Dmitry is a lecturer at Russian Christian Academy for Humanities and a member of Association for the Study of Esotericism and Mysticism. He is the author of publications on book history, colonial America and Modern Paganism, including a book Faces of Proteus: A History of Modern Paganism as a Religious Identity (2020).

Irina Gordeeva

Lecturer at St. Philaret’s Christian Orthodox Institute
Department of History
Pokrovka St. 29
101000 Moscow, Russia

Irina Gordeeva (b. 1975) graduated the Institute for History and Archives of the Russian State University for the Humanities (Moscow, Russia) in 1997. Now she is a lecturer in the Department of History in the St. Philaret’s Christian Orthodox Institute (Moscow, Russia). She is the author of a book “Zabytye Ludi: Istoriia rossiiskogo kommunitarnogo dvizheniai” (The Forgotten People: A history of the Russian communitarian movement) (Moscow: AIRO-XX, 2000, 2nd edition -2017), published following her PhD thesis. Her research interests embrace the Tolstoyan movement, Russian communitarianism and utopianism, history of conscientious objection, alternative social movements, pacifism and nonviolence in Russia. Her current project dedicates the history of pacifist movement in Russia from the Tolstoyans of the beginning of the 20th century to the independent peace activism of the late Soviet period (Group for Establishing Trust between East and West and Soviet hippies’ pacifist activity).

James Hickman

Co-Founder, Chairperson of the Board and Chief Financial Officer
Ubiquity University
Wisdom School of Graduate Studies

James Hickman is the founding Chairperson of Ubiquity University. He received his Master’s Degree in Psychology from Sonoma State College and spent 30 years developing economic, professional and cultural relations between the United States and the countries within the former Soviet bloc, which included co-founding and serving as President/CEO for three companies: the Russian long-distance company Rustel; commercial enterprise company, AJ Ventures, Inc.; and Mosaic Networks, focused on international telecommunications projects.  He was a leader in the “citizen diplomacy” movement that spawned hundreds of citizen exchanges between the United States and the Soviet Union. His publications include Your Y2K Personal Protection Plan (Harper-Collins); and numerous published articles. Since 2005, he has lived in semi-retreat in Bolivia with his family, focused on his contemplative practice and his personal study of quantum physics, neuroscience, epigenetics, and the nature of reality. He is currently an instructor in these areas at Ubiquity University’s Wisdom School of Graduate Studies. Relevant Publications: “Protecting Yourself and Your Business in Russia.” Wall Street Journal Europe, February 28, 1995; Psychological Principles of Citizen Diplomacy.” A chapter in Private Diplomacy with the Soviet Union, University Press of America, 1987; “Making Connections:  Worldwide Telecommunications in RuralRussia.”  Presentation to Development of the Telecommunication Infrastructure in Russia Conference, Moscow, May 18, 1995; “Red Stars Rising.”  Inc. Magazine, August 1995; “Business Role is Broader”.  Moscow Times, April 16, 1996; “Digital Overlay Network Opportunities”.  Presentation to Russian Telecommunication Opportunities Conference, NYC, March 26, 1997.

Agnès Kefeli

Clinical Professor of Religious Studies
Arizona State University, Tempe, USA
SHPRS Religious Studies Faculty

Agnès Kefeli is Clinical Full Professor of Religious Studies at Arizona State University and the author of Becoming Muslim in Imperial Russia, which received the 2015 Reginald Zelnik Book Prize of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies. She is especially interested in popular contestation of official identities, religious liminality, production of religious knowledge, gender in the religious sphere, eco-nationalism, and various forms of enchantment. Her latest articles include: “Noah’s Ark Landed in the Ural Mountains: Ethnic and Ecological Apocalypse in Tatarstan,” published by Russian Review, and “Varieties of Tatar Esotericism in Post-Soviet Russia,” which will be published by the same journal in 2022.

Joseph Kellner

Department of History
University of California, Berkeley, USA

Dr Joseph Kellner is lecturer in Russian and Soviet history at the University of California, Berkeley. From fall 2020, he will be assistant professor of Russian history at the University of Georgia. His forthcoming book is a cultural history of the collapse of the USSR, focused on the highly visible flourishing of radical new worldviews and spiritualities that emerged at that time. It is due out in the spring of 2023 with Cornell University Press.

Jeanne Kormina

©Wissenshcaftskolleg zu Berlin (WiKo)

Ph.D., Professor
National Research University Higher School of Economics
Department of Sociology
55 Sedova Ulitsa, Korpus 2
1921 71 St Petersburg, Russia

Jeanne (Zhanna) Kormina is a Professor at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (St Petersburg, Russia), Departments of Sociology and History. She gained her PhD in Theory and History of Culture at Russian State University for the Humanities / European University at St. Petersburg. Her research areas are anthropology of religion, ethnographies of secularization, pilgrimage, anthropology of history, post-soviet studies, Orthodox Christianity, Charismatic Christianity. She published (in Russian) two monographs “Rituals of Departure to the Military Service” (2005) and “Pilgrims. Ethnographies of Orthodox Nomadism” (2019) and two co-edited volumes (with Alexander Panchenko and Sergei Shtykov) “Dreams of the Mother of God” (2006) and “Invention of Religion: Desecularisation in Post-Soviet Context” (2015). Some of her latest publications: (with Vlad Naumescu) “A ‘New Great Schism’? Theopolitics of communion and canonical territory in Orthodox Church”. In Anthropology Today, Vol. 36 (1), 2020; “The Emperor Surveyed the City: Surrealist Socialism and the Politics of Memory”. In Novoje literaturnoje obozrenije, Vol. 152: 34-57, 2018 (in Russian); (with Sonja Luehrmann) “Social Nature of Prayer in a Church of the Unchurched: Russian Orthodox Christianity From Its Edges”. In Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 86 (2): 394-424, 2018; (with Sergey Shtyrkov) “The Female Spiritual Elder and Death: Some Thoughts on Contemporary Lives of Russian Orthodox Saints”. In State, Religion and Church 4(2): 4–24, 2017; “Killer Yeast: Gastronomic Conspiracy Theories and. the Culture of Mistrust in Modern Russia”. In Forum for Anthropology and Culture, Vol. 12: 201-229, 2016.

Emanuel Landolt

University of St. Gallen
School of Humanities & Social Sciences
Russian Philosophy

Emanuel Landolt is a researcher in Slavic studies and philosophy. He obtained his PhD in 2016 from the University of Saint Gallen. He is the editor of the volume Avant-gardes russes: Cent ans après la Révolution d’Octobre (Ligeia, Paris, 2017). His field of research includes Art theory in Russia, Moscow conceptualism, Russian philosophy.

Anna Ozhiganova

Ph.D. at Inst. of Ethnology and Anthropology
Russian Academy of Science
Medical Anthropology

Anna Ozhiganova is an anthropologist, a senior researcher at the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology Russian Academy of Sciences and a member of the Association of Medical Anthropologists (AMA). Her research interests concerns the intersections of religion, health and alternative social movements, as well as the teaching of religion in the post-secular societies. Some of her publications: “Spiritual And Moral Education” in Russian Public Schools: Constructing a Neo-Traditionalist Identity. In Forum for International Research in Education 5(1): 107-125, 2019; “Teaching about Religion in School: The Pursuit of Neutrality and the “Culture Wars”. Introduction”. In Gosudarstvo, religiia, tserkov’ v Rossii i za rubezhom 35(4): 7–29, 2017; “The Children of New Age: a Utopian Project of Anastasia Movement”. In Gosudarstvo, religiia, tserkov’ v Rossii i za rubezhom 33 (2): 262-286, 2015; “Health magic in Russian New Age”. In Socialist and post-socialist contexts. Historic and Ethnographic Case Studies of Orthodoxy, Heterodoxy, and Alternative Spirituality. Vol.1. Alexandra Cotofana, James M. Nyce (eds.), Stuttgart: ibidem-Verlag, 2017, pp.175-195; “New religiosity in modern Russia: teachings, forms and practices”, Moscow: IEA RAS, 2006 (in co-authorship with Y. Filippov).

Barbara Martin

Postdoctoral researcher
University of Basel
Department of History

Barbara Martin is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Basel, Switzerland. She is currently conducting a four-year project entitled “Finding Faith in an Atheist Land:  Russian Orthodox Intelligentsia and the Late Soviet National-Religious Revival.”  Barbara Martin obtained her PhD in International History in 2016 from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. She is the author of Dissident Histories in the Soviet Union: from de-Stalinization to Perestroika (Bloomsbury 2019) and co-author of Istoricheskii Sbornik Pamiat’: issledovaniia i dokumenty (NLO, 2017).

John Middleton-Tidwell

Owner of MiddletonTidwell Art Restoration
Fine Art
Jenner, California

After studio courses in painting at the Academy of Art in San Francisco between 1970-1973 John Middleton-Tidwell studied art history, criticism and conservation at the University of California, Santa Cruz (1973-1975) with studio courses in art conservation with Constantin Cherkas in Santa Monica, California. He is currently the owner of Middleton-Tidwell Art Restoration in Monterey, California. Moreover, in 1999 Middleton-Tidwell received an Honoris Causa degree in Naval History studies from the Naval Engineering Institute in St.Petersburg. From 1990-1997 he served as president, then board director of the Fort Ross Interpretive Association of Fort Ross State Historic Park in California, and during his tenure was elected to the Centre for Russian American Research of the Russian Academy of Science, Moscow, and worked as a consultant with the Central Naval Museum of St.Petersburg, and was a Research fellow and consultant with the Russian Museum of Ethnography, St.Petersburg. In 1999 Middleton-Tidwell was awarded the title of «Honoured Lieutenant» of the Russian Navy, in 2000 became a Cavalier of the Order of Friendship of the Russian Federation and in 2017 a Companion of The Naval Order of the United States.


Sergey Pakhomov

Associate Professor
Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia
Institute of Philosophy of Man
Department of Philosophical Anthropology and History of Philosophy
Malaya Posadskaya, 26
197046 Saint Petersburg

Chair of Association for the Studies of Esotericism and Mysticism (since 2009). Organizer of many scientific conferences and schools devoted to Esoteric studies (since 2007), Altered States of Consciousness (2013-2016), Oriental studies, etc., editor of proceedings of these conferences (more 40 volumes). Editor-in-chief of the online-journal “Aliter“. Main books (all in Russian): (Ed., introduction, indexes). Buddhism: pro et contra. Anthology (RCHGa Publishing House, 2018). (Tr., introduction). Zimmer, Heinrich; Myths and  Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization (Akademicheskii Project Publishing House, 2015); (Ed., tr., introduction). Light of Dharma. Anthology of Traditional Indian Philosophy (Amphora Publishing House, 2013); (Tr., introduction). Eliade, Mircea. Yoga: Immortality and Freedom (Akademicheskii Project Publishing House, 2011, 3rd ed.); Hinduism (Yoga, Tantrism, Krishnaism) (Amphora Publishing House, 2002).

Stanislav Panin

PhD student
Rice University
Houston, TX, USA

Stanislav Panin is a scholar of religion and esotericism. He graduated from Moscow State University and achieved a degree of candidate of sciences in religious studies at the same university in 2015. His dissertation focused on the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and attempted to represent its doctrines in the context of fin de siècle European philosophy. Since 2018, Stanislav Panin continues his research as a doctoral student at Rice University (Houston, TX). He also serves as a board member of the Association for the Study of Esotericism and Mysticism, a non-profit scholarly organization created to promote development of esoteric studies in post-Soviet region. Panin’s primary field of expertise is the study of modern and contemporary Western Esotericism. His current research project concentrates on the study of unconventional spirituality in the USSR during the cold war period. On a more practical level, he is interested in connections between religions and political ideologies, issues of freedom of religion and belief, and social functions of conspiracy theories.

Irina Sadovina

Irina Sadovina is a cultural scientist and researcher of contemporary culture. She is currently working on a study of Vedic femininity as part of the project PUT670 Vernacular Interpretations of the Incomprehensible: Folkloristic Perspectives Towards Uncertainty (Estonian Research Council of the University of Tartu). From 2019 to 2020 she was a lecturer at the Volga State University of Technology, and in 2018/2019, she served as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Russian at the University of Missouri. She received a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Toronto in 2018 and a second PhD in Literature and Cultural Research from the University of Tartu in 2020. She has published on various aspects of contemporary culture, including alternative spirituality in Russia.

 Dany Savelli

Assistant Professor of Russian Literature and Civilisation
Université Toulouse – Jean Jaurès
5 allées Antonio Machado
31058 Toulouse Cedex 9

Dany Savelli is assistant professor in Russian Literature and Civilisation at Toulouse University. She earned her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature in 1994. She is particularly interested in the imaginary portrayal of Asia (Mongolia, China, Japan, and Tibet) in Russian literature, arts and thought. After editing The Presence of Buddhism in Russia in 2005, she focused on researching about the Russian painter and mystic Nikolai Roerich. In 2011, together with the Russian historian Alexander Andreyev, she edited The Roerichs: Between Facts and Myths (in Russian). In 2019, she was the editor of second collection of articles devoted to Roerich Around Nicholas Roerich: Art, Esotericism, Orientalism and Politics.

Victoria Smolkin

Associate Professor of History
Wesleyan University
Middletown, CT 06459, USA

Dr Victoria Smolkin is associate professor of history and Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies at Wesleyan University. A scholar of Communism, the Cold War, and Russia and the former Soviet Union, her work focuses on the intersections of politics with religion and ideology, including atheism, secularism, and nationalism. Smolkin’s recent book, A Sacred Space Is Never Empty: A History of Soviet Atheism (Princeton University Press, 2018; in paperback 2019), presents the first history of Soviet atheism from the 1917 revolution to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. It explores the meaning of atheism for Soviet religious culture, ideology, and politics. A Russian translation is forthcoming from the Russian publishing house New Literary Observer in Spring 2020. She has also appeared in a number of media outlets, including the BBC (“Belief and Unbelief in Russia”), National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition, the New Books Network, the Immanent Frame Blog, The Conversation, and the Washington Post. She is currently at work on two projects: “The Crusade Against Godlessness: Religion, Communism, and the Cold War Order” and “The Wall of Memory: Life, Death, and the Impossibility of History.”

Anita Stasulane

Professor of History of Religions
Daugavpils University/Latvia
Faculty of Humanities

Anita Stasulane is a Professor of History of Religions, a director of the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences at Daugavpils University (Latvia), graduated Latvian University (1985) and Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy (1998). Her main field of research is cultural studies focusing on major paradigms of the new religious movements and youth culture. She has broad experience in applying the qualitative research methods (ethnography, life story and family history) and executing international research projects: she leaded the Daugavpils University partnership on large collaborative projects: FP6 SAL, FP7 MYPLACE, FP7 MYWEB, H2020 ECDP; currently she is working on the H2020 CHIEF project. She is the editor-in-chef of “Kultūras Studijas” (Cultural Studies). The project related recent publications: Kiope, M., Runce, I., Stasulane, A. “Trajectories of Atheism and Secularization in Latvia: From the German Enlightenment to Contemporary Secularity”. In: Tomás Bubik, Atko Remmel, David Václavik (eds.). Freethought and Atheism in Central and Eastern Europe. New York: Routledge, 2020, 137-154. Stasulane, A. “Interaction between the Secular and the Religious: The Exhibition Latvia’s Century at the National History Museum of Latvia”. In: Časopis Historická Sociologie/Historical Sociology. 2 (2019) 53-67. Stasulane, A. “Le succès rencontre par les disciple de Roerich en Lettonie (1920-1940)”. In:  Éd. Dany Savelli. Autour de Nicolas Roerich: art, ésoterism, orientalism et politique. Slavica Occitania no.48, 2019, Toulouse : Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, 415-435. Stasulane, A. “The Presence of Western Esotericism in Latvian Literature”. In Forum for World Literature Studies. Vol.11. No.1 (March) 2019, 10-22. Stasulane, A. “A Reconstructed Indigenous Religious Tradition in Latvia“. In: Religions Nr. 10, Issue 3, 2019, 1-13.

Andrei Znamenski

Professor of History
University of Memphis/Tennessee
Department of History or

Andrei Znamenski is a Professor in the Department of History. He was previously a resident scholar at the Library of Congress, a foreign visiting professor at Hokkaido University, Japan, and an associate professor at the Alabama State University. His research interests concern the history of religions and ideologies in modern time, particularly in Eurasia and the modern West. Prof Znamenski authored three books and edited two volumes, including “The Beauty of the Primitive: Shamanism and the Western Imagination” (Oxford University Press, 2007) and “Red Shambhala: Magic, Prophecy, and Geopolitics in the Heart of Asia” (Quest Books, 2011). Lately, he has been examining how Tibetan Buddhism and early Communism shaped the identity of Siberian indigenous people. Simultaneously, he is writing a book that explores the cultural history of Socialism – a project commissioned by Rowman & Littlefield. Prof Znamenski also serves on editorial advisory boards of such journals as Siberica: Journal of Siberian Studies, Alaska History and Ante Portas: Security Studies (Poland).

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