Orthodox women in America : the making of the conservative-liberal subject

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2017-05

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This dissertation asks: what does it mean and feel like to be an Eastern Orthodox woman in America? It answers this question by exploring how it is possible to become an Orthodox woman in the present day United States. By attending to the Orthodox Christian and Western liberal discourses, everyday practices and material spaces in which practitioners – Russian immigrant women and American converts – are immersed, this dissertation unveils the slow process of becoming and the everyday experience of being an Orthodox Christian subject. This dissertation proposes that it is possible for the Orthodox women in the United States to embody a double subjectivity that reconciles conservative values, such as doctrinal commitments to gendered hierarchies, with liberal values, such as personal professions of individual freedom in complex and sometimes unpredictable ways. In doing so, this dissertation complicates an assumption that Orthodox Christian identity is best understood as a subject position, which is always already opposed to the secular liberalism that defines the West.

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