Open Lecture: Russia's Worldview: Katechon and Atomic Orthodoxy with Prof. Maria Engström

  • Date: –17:00
  • Location: IRES Library, Gamla torget 3, 3rd floor
  • Lecturer: Prof. Maria Engström
  • Organiser: Uppsala Forum
  • Contact person: Michael Watson-Conneely
  • Seminarium

The paper focuses on Christian messianism in contemporary Russian intellectual thought. The ‘conservative turn’ in Russian politics is associated with the return to the cultural and political ideologeme of Katechon, which is proposed by several right-wing intellectuals as the basis for the Russia’s new state ideology and foreign and security policy. The theological concept of Katechon (‘the withholding’) that protects the world from the advent of the Antichrist originates in the Byzantine Empire. In Russian tradition, this concept is presented in the well-known doctrine of Moscow as the Third Rome, dating back to the 16th century. The term ‘Katechon’ in contemporary Russian political discourse is relatively new and can be traced to the post-Soviet reception of Carl Schmitt’s political theology. The concept of Russia as Katechon is directly connected to the national security and defence policy, because it is used as the ideological ground for the new wave of militarization and anti-Western sentiment, as well as for Russia’s actions during the war in Ukraine. This analysis puts the internal political and cultural debate on Russia’s role in international affairs and its relations with the West into historical perspective and demonstrates the right-wing intellectual circles’ influence on the Kremlin’s new domestic and foreign policy.

Speaker bio
Maria Engström is Professor of Russian at Uppsala University, Sweden. Her research focuses on Russian neoconservative intellectual milieu, imperial aesthetics in contemporary Russian literature and art, late Soviet underground culture, post-Soviet utopian imagination, and the role of the Orthodox Church in contemporary Russian politics. She co-edited The Oxford Handbook of Soviet Underground Culture, Oxford University Press (2023) and Digital Orthodoxy: Mediating Post-Secularity in Russia (2015). Engström’s publications include articles ‘Re-imagining antiquity: The conservative discourse of ‘Russia as the true Europe’ and Kremlin’s new cultural policy’ (2020), ‘Visualizing the Conservative Revolution: Alternative Globalization and Aesthetic Utopia of ‘Novorossiia’’ (2018), and  'Contemporary Russian Messianism and New Russian Foreign Policy' (2014). Her current project ‘No(w)stalgia of Modernity: Neo-Soviet Myth in Contemporary Russian Culture’ (2020-2024) is supported by the Swedish Research Council.