Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Christianizing Crimea: Shaping Sacred Space in the Russian Empire and Beyond

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Christianizing Crimea: Shaping Sacred Space in the Russian Empire and Beyond

Article excerpt

Christianizing Crimea: Shaping Sacred Space in the Russian Empire and Beyond. By Mara Kozelsky. (DeKaIb: Northern Illinois University Press. 2010. Pp. xiv, 270. $42.00. ISBN 978-0-875-80412-5.)

This fine monograph examines the "Christianizing" of the Crimea- from the annexation in the late-eighteenth century to the Crimean War and its aftermath. After first mapping the myriad ethnic and confessional groups that populated the area, Mara Kozelsky examines how the Russian state and church came to grips with this complex, rapidly developing region. She shows that state and church authorities did not always agree (especially on the matter of converting Muslims), but that praxis varied considerably (with local officials subverting the general-governor's opposition, for example). This study also shows how public opinion, steeped in images of a glorious Greek and Christian past, helped shape attitudes even before the region was predominantly Russian and Orthodox. The turning point came under Archbishop Innokentii (Borisov) at mid-century, a zealot for buttressing the Christian identity of the region, most dramatically through the establishment of new monasteries based on the model of Mount Athos. The Crimean War completed this process, linking the Crimea with a national identity that was at once Russian and Orthodox. The author has mined an impressive array of sources, not only printed materials neglected by previous historians but also central and local archival materials, and places her findings within the larger context of current scholarship.

A short review can hardly do justice to the scale of research and close analysis. The author draws extensively on Innokentii 's manuscript collections in the Russian National Library and the Russian State Historical Archive, and to a lesser extent on the provincial archives in Odessa and Simferopol. The review of secondary works is impressive, with little missing from the bibliography; a rare omission is L.V.Vel'nikova's 2007 article.1

Even so thoughtful, meticulously researched a work leaves some questions unanswered. …

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