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`s publications include: Paganism, Traditionalism, Nationalism: Narratives of Russian Rodnoverie. Routledge, 2016; Modern Pagan and Native Faith Movements in Central and Eastern Europe. Ashgate, 2013; Religion, Expression, and Patriotism in Russia: Essays on Post-Soviet Society and the State. Ibidem-Verlag, 2019; “Discussions about indigenous, national and transnational Islam in Russia.” In The Image of Islam in Russia. Edited by G. Simons,  25–40. Routledge, 2021; Mitikka, E., Heusala, A-L., Aitamurto, K., Into, N., Helin, O. K. I., Pesci, E., Gorbacheva, E., & Reynolds, B. “Aleksanteri-konferenssi 2021: Euraasia ja globaali maahanmuutto”The Finnish Review of East European Studies 29:1(2022): 90–92;  [Book review] Dmitry Galtsin: “Faces of Proteus: History of Modern Paganism as a Religious Identity”, Saint Petersburg: RCHA Publishing. Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft 17:2 (2022): 334–337; [Book review] “Old Religion, New Spirituality.” Journal of Contemporary Religion 38:1 (2023): 157–159.

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. In the fall of 2020, she taught 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 taught two graduate seminars. Her publications include: “Experiential Learning in Drama-Based Russian Language Courses.” Teaching Russian Without a Textbook. Routledge Series on Russian Language Pedagogy and Research. Routledge, 2024; “The Occult Nineteenth Century: Roots, Developments, and Impact on the Modern World.” Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft. Forthcoming Summer 2023; “Helena Blavatsky,” “Theosophy,” “The Theosophical Society.” Great Russian Encyclopedia (Bol’shaya Rossiiskaya Entsiklopedia Online). Russian Academy of Sciences, 2023; “From Christ to Krishna: Tolstoy and Eastern Philosophies.” Critical Insights: Leo Tolstoy, edited by Rachel Stauffer, Salem Press, 2018, pp. 206-220; From Christ to Krishna: Tolstoy and Eastern Philosophies in Critical Insights: Leo Tolstoy (Salem Press, 2017).

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: How the ‘90s Have Become a Source of Inspiration for Pop Artists Russia.Post, 2023; Ukraine : “Le nouvel impérialisme russe postsoviétique est revanchard”, 2022; Cultural forms of protest in contemporary Russia, The University and Social Protests Uppsala. 2022; “We don’t support the ‘special operation’, we’re carrying it out”, Russia.Post, 2022; Late-Soviet Occulture: Evgenii Golovin and the Iuzhinskii Circle (In Mark Lipovetsky, Ilja Kukuj,Tomas Glanc, Maria Engström, and Klavdia Smola (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Soviet Underground Culture, Oxford University Press, 2022); Russia as the West’s queer other: Gosha Rubchinskiy’s politics of fashion (In Miazhevich,Galina (ed.), Queering Russian Media and Culture, Routledge, London & New York, 114-133, 2022) Theoretical Problems of Soviet Underground Culture (In The Oxford Handbook of Soviet Underground Culture, Oxford University Press, with Mark Lipovetsky, Ilja Kukuj,Tomas Glanc, and Klavdia Smola, 2021); Recycling of the Post-Soviet Counterculture, and the New Aesthetics of the “Second World” (In Новое литературное обозрение, 169, 3, 70-88, 2021).

Boris Falikov

Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Russian State University for the Humanities

Miusskaia ploshad’ 6/2

125993 Moscow, Russia

Boris Falikov graduated from the Faculty of Foreign Languages of Saratov Pedagogical Institute. In 1985, he defended a historical sciences PhD candidate’s thesis, Socio-political aspects of some religious movements in the US (Hinduism and Buddhism). He has worked in the Orientalist Institute with the Russian Academy of Sciences, in the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies, where he’s been studying the phenomenon of spreading of Hinduism and Buddhism in the Western culture. During the early 1990s, he has been lecturing at Lewis & Clark College, University of Georgetown and the University of Kansas. In 1997 – 1998, he was the OSCE expert on issues of freedom of religion. Since 1999, he is an assistant professor at Russian State University for the Humanities (RSUH). He teaches at the RSUH Center of Religious Studies and is Head of the International Department of Culture newspaper. Falikov`s publications include: Religion as part of political life in the US (1985), Neo-Hinduism and the Western culture (1994), Christianity and other religions (1999), Cults and culture: from Helena Blavatsky to Ron Hubbard (2007); Scientology: from science fiction to chimeras of new religion (2011) Science and religion; A non-dogmatic moralist (2013); Sovereign islam (2013) Gazeta.ruOccultism, 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. She is also the author of a monograph on the culture and history of the Soviet Hippie movement titled Flowers through Concrete: Explorations in the Soviet Hippieland (2021), Stalin’s Last Generation: Soviet Post-War Youth and the Emergence of Late Socialism (2010) and the co-editor of Dropping Out of Socialism: Alternative Spheres in the Soviet Bloc (2016) and The Cambridge History of Communism (Vol. III, 2017).

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). His publications also include: The boom in popularity of esotericism and mysticism in Russia of the nineties: what was that? Afisha Daily, 2023; The Divine Feminine in the Silver Age of Russian Culture and Beyond: Vladimir Soloviev, Vasily Rozanov and Dmitry Merezhkovsky // Pomegranate: International Journal of Pagan Studies Vol. 17. 2015. No. 1. P. 14-15; Colloquium Heptaplomeres: A Scholarly Almanac. Volum I: Paganism in 20th and 21th centuries: Russian and European context. Nizhny Novgorod: Nizhny Novgorod State University, 2014, P. 142-152; Wicca between esoteric society and exoteric Paganism (Russian Christian Academy of Humanities), 2011.

Irina Gordeeva

Research associate at Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam

Am Neuen Markt 1

14467 Potsdam

Irina Gordeeva (b. 1975) graduated the Institute for History and Archives of the Russian State University for the Humanities (Moscow, Russia) in 1997. She was a lecturer in the Department of History in the St. Philaret’s Christian Orthodox Institute (Moscow, Russia). In 2020–2022 was Ms. Gordeeva an associated researcher at ZZF Potsdam in Dep. I. Since 2022 is she a research associate at ZZF Potsdam in Dep. I.

Gordeeva`s research interests embrace the Tolstoyan movement, Russian communitarianism and utopianism, history of conscientious objection, alternative social movements, pacifism and nonviolence in Russia. One of her projects dedicated 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).

Gordeeva`s publications include: “Tolstoyans and the European Pacifist Movement in the 1920-1930s: Тhe Early History of European Transnational Solidarity”, CAS Sofia Working Paper Series (2022); “Christian Samizdat on Religious Seeking of the Soviet Countercultural Youth in the 1970s to mid-1980s”, in Igor Mikeshin (ed), Eight Essays on Russian Christianities (St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg Center for the History of Ideas, 2020), 79–107; “Tolstoy as an Icon of Nonviolence”, in Anna Hamling (ed.), Contemporary  Icons of  Nonviolence (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019), 24-46. (Peace Studies: Edges and Innovations); “Izmena Rodine v Forme Begstva za Granitsu: Sud’ba Aleksandra Shatravki i Fenomen Pobegushnikov v SSSR”, in Mariia Nekludova and Elena Shumilova (eds.),  Russkaia Avant’ura: Identichnosti, Proekty, Reprezentatsii (Moscow: Delo, 2019), 175–209; “‘Fighting for Peace is Everyone’s Job’: The Independent Peace Movement in the USSR and the Soviet View of Public Diplomacy in the 1980s”, in Óscar J. Martín García and Rósa Magnusdottir (eds.), Machineries of Persuasion: Soft European Power and Public Diplomacy during the Cold War (De Gruyeter Oldenbourg, 2019), 121–146, (Rethinking the Cold War, 3); “The Religious Roots of the Pacifist Movement in the Russian Empire and the USSR in the 20th century,” Reliģiski-filozofiski raksti XXV (Rīga: LU FSI, 2019), 242–263; “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.

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

Assistant Professor

Department of History

University of Georgia, USA

Dr. Joseph Kellner is assistant professor of Russian history at the University of Georgia, USA.His forthcoming book (yet untitled) 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 late 2024 with Cornell University Press.  

Kellner`s recent publications include: “The End of History: Radical Responses to the Soviet Collapse” under review at Cornell University Press (2018); the book’s first chapter, on late- and post-Soviet astrology, was published in 2019 as “As Above, So Below: Astrology and the Fate of Soviet Scientism.”Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 20, no. 4 (Fall 2019): 783-812; Review of “October: The Story of the Russian Revolution”, by China Miéville, Canadian-American Slavic Studies (2020); a version of the final chapter, on the radical historical revisions of mathematician Anatolii Fomenko, was published in 2021 in Russian and English as “Анатолий Фоменко в конце истории,” in “В защиту мейнстрима” (“In Defense of the Mainstream”), edited by Lev Danilkin, Moscow, V—A—C Foundation.

Joseph is also co-author with Alexei Golubev of a forthcoming primary source reader, Colonial Legacies, Radical Histories: Early Soviet Historians and the Anticolonial Critique, University of Toronto Press, expected 2024.

Jeanne Kormina

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: Religious activism in Eastern Europe and beyond, Religion, State and Society, Informa UK Limited (2023); The Tsar’s Road: Invisible Infrastructure and Pious Labour in Contemporary Russian Orthodox Christianity, Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the Russian Academy of Sciences (The Kunstkamera) (2022); (with Vlad Naumescu) A “‘New Great Schism’? Theopolitics of communion and canonical territory in Orthodox Church”. In Anthropology Today, Vol. 36 (1), 2020; Angie Heo, Jeanne Kormina, Douglas Rogers, Webb Keane, Vlad Naumescu,Catherine Wanner, Kristen Ghodsee & Vera Shevzov (2020) Unfinished conversations: A tribute to Sonja Luehrmann (1975–2019), History and Anthropology 31:2, 165-196; Introduction: Religion and Borders in (Post–)Cold War Peripheries,The Journal of Religion (2019).

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., Research Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences of the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg (CAS-E) Project “Alternative Rationalities and Esoteric Practices in Global Perspective”

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, 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). The list of her publications also includes Roy and Zhores Medvedev: Loyal Dissent in the Soviet Union (Academic Studies Press, 2023, forthcoming) and Religious Life in the Late Soviet Union. From Survival to Revival (1960s-1980s) (co-edited with Nadezhda Beliakova) (Routledge, 2023, forthcoming).

John Middleton-Tidwell

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 candidate

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 where he concentrates on the study of alternative 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. His recent publications include: Conspiracy Narratives in Russia: A Search for Identity, Religious Worldviews, and Russian Politics. Religion Compass, vol. 16, issue 8, 2022; Reactions of Russian Religious Minorities on the Aggression Against UkraineTalk About: Law and Religion, 2022; Soviet Dissidents and Religion: Between Human Rights and National RootsTalk About: Law and Religion, 2022; In Search for a Language for Individualized ReligiosityTalk About: Law and Religion, 2021; Soviet Atlantis: Between Science Fiction and Esoteric Communities. Literary History, vol. 52, no. 171, p. 123–147, 2020.; A Language of “Sects” in Russian Reflections of Ukrainian AutocephalyTalk About: Law and Religion, 2020; Pagan Communities in the Time of PandemicTalk About: Law and Religion, 2020; Alternative Spiritualities in Russia during the Conflict in Ukraine. In Religion During the Russian-Ukrainian Conflict. Routledge, 2019. P. 69–85.; Esoteric Poetry in the Late USSR: The Case of Jan Koltunov. In Esotericism, Literature and Culture in Central and Eastern Europe. Belgrade, 2018. P. 175–182.; Astral Karate as a Phenomenon of Late-Soviet Esoteric Underground. Open Theology, 3, p. 408–416, 2017.

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). 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 (In Search of Vedic Wisdom: Forms of Alternative Spirituality in Contemporary Russia). She has published on various aspects of contemporary culture, including alternative spirituality in Russia, in such journals as Journal of Contemporary Religion, Nova Religio, and Digital Icons: Studies in Russian, Eurasian and Central European New Media, as well as in the monograph Contesting Authority: Vernacular Knowledge and Alternative Belief. She teaches at the University of Sheffield.

 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.

Nikolay Smirnov

Research assistant at the Documenta Institute (Kassel)

Postgraduate student at the University of Kassel/Germany (Faculty of Sociology)

Nikolay Smirnov (*1982) is a geographer, artist, curator, and researcher, working with geographical imaginations and geo-capital in art. His practice is formed around the analysis and implementation of complex narratives in the form of text, exhibitions, and film. Co-curator of the projects Metageography (2014–2018) and Permafrost (Arctic Biennale, Yakutsk, 2016), Nikolay Smirnov participated in the main projects of the 5th Ural Industrial Biennial (2019, curator Xiaoyu Weng) and The 2nd Riga Biennial (2020, curator Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel). His research texts are published i.e. in: e-flux journal, Khudozhestvennyi Zhurnal (Art Magazine, Moscow),, CEM (Center of Experimental Museology, V.A.C. Foundation), and on the platforms, His recent publications include: Elements ofImmanentism in Russia: Double Belief, Cosmism, and Marx (2021); Religious Libertarians’s Foundation (essay-exhibition) (2020); Shaman, Schismatic, Necromancer: Religious Libertarians in Russia (2020); Death, Immortality, and the Powers of the Khtonic World (essay-exhibition) and Left-Wing Eurasianism and Postcolonial Theory (2019).

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: Menzel, B., Stasulane, A., Kacane, I. “Esoterism and the East: Introduction”, in: Journal of Comparative Studies (Daugavpils), 2022, vol. 44, issue 15, 8–16. 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.

Oleg Yarosh

Associate Professor

Head of Oriental Philosophy Department

of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Oleg Yarosh is an Associate Professor, head of Oriental Philosophy Department of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Currently, guest fellow at the Center for Religious Studies, Ruhr University, Bochum. His research interests are in Religious Studies and Intellectual History and include Sufism in the West, Islam in East-Central Europe, Theosophical Orientalism among other topics. He is a member of the European Network for the Study of Islam and Esotericism (ENSIE) and The European Academy of Religion.

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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