Mediated Orthodoxy: Mission in China

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Professor
Affiliation: Saint Petersburg State University
Address: St. Petersburg, Russia
Occupation: Head of Department of Political Science and Sociology
Affiliation: Buryat State University
Address: Russian Federation, Ulan-Ude
Occupation: Head of Department of Religious Studies and Theology
Affiliation: Buryat State University
Address: Russian Federation, Ulan-Ude
Journal nameSotsiologicheskie issledovaniya
EditionIssue 3

The rapidly unfolding processes of digitalization and mediatization are radically changing contours of social reality and semantic content of routine communication practices. Unprecedented arrangements of individuals, communications and media give rise to new meanings in translocal digital spaces of dialogue about different thematic sectors of reality. Religious websites, mobile applications, online lectures, sermons and divine services open up access to information and practices outside the boundaries of sacred territories and prescriptions expanding public discourse about religions, making available meanings previously hidden from external "non-church" or "uninitiated" search. In this article, we propose an examination of the current communicative practices of the Russian Orthodox Church mission in China. A respective sociological study may shed light on the interpretation of the mission by practicing priests serving in a foreign cultural environment, where Orthodoxy is a tiny island of sacredness for Russians as a "small nation" in several autonomous regions of the PRC and for those who came to it through individual spiritual search. This case makes it possible to get directly in touch with possible answers to questions about the very possibility of an Orthodox mission in societies of religious pluralism, but at the same time deeply secularized, commercialized and individualized. Secondly, for many decades the Orthodox mission in China has been the subject of research by orientalist and historians. Paradoxically, a detailed study of the past of the Orthodox mission in China does not enable scholars to elucidate its present, especially specifics of the connections between the structures of the Russian Orthodox Church, various actors and communicative media practices of Orthodox missionary work.


KeywordsOrthodoxy, China, Missionary Activity, Digital Religion
AcknowledgmentThe study was funded by RFBR, project No. 21-011-44156.
Publication date07.04.2023
Number of characters45414
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