Join the Department for the Study of Religion for the first student colloquium of the year!
Speaker: Usmon Boron
Title: “And I Believe in Signs”: Soviet Secularism, Religious Doubt, and an Ethics of Event in Kyrgyzstan
Respondent: Pamela Klassen
Aziza is a young Muslim woman living in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. She works for an Islamic educational website, translating theological articles from Turkish into Russian and managing the website’s proselytizing Facebook page. Despite the missionary nature of this job, Aziza, like the majority of post-Soviet Muslims, does not observe the daily ritual obligations of Islam. Yet, assuming the role of proselytizer moved her to question her way of being Muslim. While Aziza gravitates toward the pietistic Islam that the website preaches, she feels continuously unsettled by doubts and a sense of unreadiness to embrace a new mode of religiosity. Aziza’s story reveals how her struggle is mediated by the conceptual and affective legacy of Soviet secularism. While communism is often considered to be antithetical to secular liberalism, Aziza illuminates shared aspects of these ideologies, helping us expand our understanding of secularism.