Project team

We are a German-Russian research project team based at Mainz University and European University at St. Petersburg. With the focus on “New Age” in the USSR and post-Soviet Russia we intend to publish texts and other materials related to the individual subprojects of our team members, as well as from other scholars throughout the world working in this domain. We hope that our blog will encourage further discussion and research on New Age in the fields of Anthropology, Study of Religions, Cultural and Translation Studies.

If you have any questions about our project or wish to contribute to our blog, please contact us at:
naru (at)


Prof. Dr. Birgit Menzel

The Culture of New Age in Soviet Russia, Central Europe, and the USA: A Comparative View

Birgit is a Professor for Russian (Inter-) Cultural Studies at the Faculty of Translation, Language and Culture Studies, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. In 1974–1975, she studied Russian Literature, Politics, and Film Studies at Indiana University in Bloomington, USA. Birgit earned her M.A. and Ph.D. from the Free University of Berlin in 1982 and 1991. In 1997, she received her postdoctoral degree (habilitation) in Russian and Slavic Literatures from the University of Rostock. She is one of the editors of The New Age of Russia: Occult and Esoteric Dimensions (2012). Birgit is the project leader of the New Age research group on the German side. Her latest publications are focused on Citizen Diplomacy during the Cold War, Esotericism, Occultism, and Parapsychology in Russia, Russia, and/as Eurasia and Transhumanism and Utopia.



Prof. Dr. Alexander Panchenko

Ufology, Practices of ‘Channeling’ and ‘Scholars of the Paranormal’ in Soviet and Post-Soviet New Age

Alexander received his diploma in History from St Petersburg State University in 1993. Three years later, he became a research fellow at the Russian Academy of Sciences, where he earned a Ph.D. degree. Since 2010, Alexander has been Director of the Center for Anthropology of Religion at the European University at St Petersburg. Since 2016, he is also Professor at the Russian Academy of Sciences (The Pushkin House) in St Petersburg. He is the author and the editor of many books and articles on Russian mystic sects, Folk and contemporary religions. Currently, Alexander is the project leader of the New Age research group on the Russian side. His research interests lie in Anthropology and Cognitive Studies of Religion, New Religious Movements in Russia, Theory, and History of Folklore Research, Conspiracy Theories, etc.



Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sergei Shtyrkov 

Wisdom of the Ancestors and Challenges of Modernity: Some Concepts of the New Age in the Rhetoric of the Ossetian Ethnic Traditionalism

Sergei is an Associate Professor at European University at St Petersburg, working at the Department of Anthropology. In 1997, he graduated from European University at St Petersburg, and in 2002, he received his Ph.D. in History from Russian State University for the Humanities in 2002. That same year, he began working at the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Kunstkamera), where he currently holds a position as Senior Researcher. Sergei’s field of expertise includes Anthropology of Religion, Religious Nationalism, and Folk Narrative Studies in Northwestern Russia, North Ossetia, Krasnoyarsk, etc. From 2019 until 2020, he is a Guest Researcher at the Centre for East European and International Studies in Berlin (Germany).




Dr. Anna Tessmann 

Astrological Schools and the Cultic Milieu of the Late Soviet and Post-Soviet Periods

Anna is a postdoctoral researcher with a focus on astrology. She took an interest in Zoroastrianism during her B.A. study in the Comparative Study of Religion(s) at St Petersburg State University (1994–2000). In 2005, Anna defended her M.A. thesis at Heidelberg University, and, in 2012, received her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Since 2014, she teaches History of Iranian Religions and Persian Language at Heidelberg University. The area of her studies includes Comparative Study of Religions, Soviet and Post-Soviet Esotericism, Ancient and Contemporary Iranian Religions.



Dr. Julia Andreeva 

‘Spiritual Services‘ on the New Age Market in Russia ____________________________________________

In 2006, Julia received her B.A. from St Petersburg State University and, in 2010, her M. A. degree from the European University at St Petersburg. Two years later, she defended her dissertation on The World Transformation Projects in New Religious Movement Anastasia: Anthropological Aspects of New Age Religion in Contemporary Russia. Since 2017, she holds a position as a Junior Researcher at the Caucasus Department of the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera). As a specialist in Anthropology and Ethnology, Julia focuses on researching New Religious Movements, Intentional Communities, and Alternative history.



Romina Kaltenbach (née Heim), M. A. 

The History of Mystical Anarchism: Texts – Actors – Concepts ________________________________

In 2017, Romina defended her M.A. thesis on Vasily Nalimov’s Concept of Freedom at the Faculty for Translation Studies, Linguistics, and Cultural Studies of the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz in Germersheim. After her graduation, she taught German at St Petersburg State University (SPbU) as a foreign-language assistant for the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). She has also worked as a freelance translator for Russian, English, and German languages for three years. Since 2018, Romina is a Ph.D. candidate in our project. Her current research focuses on the spiritual movement of Mystical Anarchism in early Soviet Russia and its esoteric dimension represented by the Moscow Templar Order.



Dr. Andrei Tiukhtiaev

Pilgrimage in New Age Culture: Practices and Identities _________________________________________

In 2014, Andrei earned his Specialist’s degree in History at Kuban State University. The title of his thesis was The Concept of Person in the Classical Buddhist Tradition. His dissertation The Construction of Sacred Space and Regimes of Sociality in New Age Pilgrimage Andrei defended in 2021. His area of interest includes Anthropology of Religion, New Age spirituality, pilgrimage, and sacred sites. In the last years, he published several articles devoted to such subjects as, e.g., legitimacy and performance in New Age spirituality.



Dr. Svetlana Tambovtseva

Amateur Linguistics as a Form of Stigmatized Knowledge in Late and Post-Soviet New Religious Culture

From 2008 to 2013, Svetlana studied at Moscow State University at the Department of Russian Language and Literature. In 2017, she received her M. A. degree from European University at St Petersburg. Svetlana’s area of specialization includes Anthropology of Religion, Folklore Studies and Amateur Linguistics. She has conducted two parallel field projects on the religious dissenters’ textual cultures, one focused on the Doukhobor religious identity and oral practices, and the other on the post-soviet New Age linguistics of Vseyasvetnaya Gramota followers. Svetlana has received her Ph. D. degree from the Institute of Russian Literature (The Pushkin House) of Russian Academy of Science, her dissertation was dedicated to the Doukhobor Religious Folklore, its Historical and Ritual Context (2022).

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