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Catherine Wanner

Catherine Wanner

Professor of History, Anthropology and Religious Studies

302 Weaver Building
University Park , PA 16802

Curriculum Vitae

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  1. PhD, Columbia University, 1996


My current research centers broadly on the politics of religion, secularism, and increasingly on human rights in the former Soviet Union.  I am particularly interested in how the shifting politics of religion and processes of secularization in the USSR have shaped social and cultural practices in everyday life in post-Soviet societies.  My interest in religion stems from earlier research on nationalism and historical memory in Ukraine and has since broadened to include how religion intersects with migration, political protest as well as globalization.

My first book, Burden of Dreams: History and Identity in Post-Soviet Ukraine, analyzed the colonial nature of the Soviet Union by examining how historical events were reinterpreted as a form of political protest and re-presented in commemorations, festivals, and the urban landscape to articulate a sense of nationhood after 1991. Communities of the Converted: Ukrainians and Global Evangelism explored how the prominent role religion assumed in public life in post-Soviet Ukraine contributed to the formation of transnational communities, alternative moralities and political engagement. I edited a collection of essays on lived religion in the USSR entitled, State Secularism and Lived Religion in Soviet Russia and Ukraine and co-edited Religion, Morality and Community in Post-Soviet Societies.

I am currently writing a book on how popular forms of religiosity are used in political protest in Ukraine and Russia and editing a collection of essays entitled, Public Religion, Ambient Faith: The Anthropology of Religion.  I received my doctorate in sociocultural anthropology and employ a variety of methods in my research beyond archival work, including semi-structured interviews, life history narratives, and ethnographic methods of participant observation.

Recent Publications:

State Secularism and Lived Religion in Soviet Russia and Ukraine, editor, New York:  Oxford University Press, 2012.

Communities of the Converted: Ukrainians and Global Evangelism. Culture and Society after Socialism Series, Bruce Grant and Nancy Ries, editors, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007.

Burden of Dreams: History and Identity in Post-Soviet Ukraine. Post-Communist Cultural Studies Series, Thomas Cushman, editor, University Park, PA: Penn State Press, 1998.

Awards and Service:

Visiting Professor, Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, 2016-17
Convenor, Working Group on Religion in the Black Sea Region (2014 to Present)
Chairperson, Academic Advisory Council, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Kennan Institute (2011-2016)
Swiss National Science Foundation Research Grants (2011-2014) and (2015-2018)
William C. Douglass Best Book Award, American Anthropological Association (2008)
Heldt Best Book Prize, Association for Women in Slavic Studies (2008)
Best Book Prize, American Association of Ukrainian Studies (2008)
Honorable Mention, Harvard Davis Center Outstanding Monograph in Political and Social Studies, Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (2008)
Choice Outstanding Academic Title, American Library Association (2008)

Areas of Specialization:

Modern Europe: