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Catherine Wanner

Catherine Wanner

Professor of History, Anthropology and Religious Studies

Barry Director of the Paterno Fellows Program

302 Weaver Building
University Park , PA 16802
Office Phone: (814) 865-6689

Curriculum Vitae

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  1. PhD, Columbia University, 1996


My current research centers broadly on the politics of religion and secularism.  I am particularly interested in how the shifting politics of religion and processes of secularization in the USSR shaped social and cultural practices in everyday life.  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, forced and elective, 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. Communities of the Converted: Ukrainians and Global Evangelism, in contrast, explored how religion in the USSR contributed to the formation of alternative moralities, transnational communities, and political engagement, all of which were seen as antithetical to socialist modernity. Most recently, 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 policies of secularization were experienced in Ukraine and how they were interwoven with attempts to Sovietize and nationalize this multiethnic and multiconfessional population. Specifically, I analyze how these processes affected popular forms of ritual life that were used in political protest. I am also currently editing a collection of essays entitled, Public Religion, Ambient Faith: Religion in Russia and Ukraine.  I 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:

Chairperson, Advisory Council, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Kennan Institute (2012-2016)
Swiss National Science Foundation (2011-2014)
Woskob Family Fund for Ukrainian Studies (2009)
|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 Award, Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (2008)
Choice Outstanding Academic Title, American Library Association (2008)
NSF-COBASE Project Development and Initiation Grant (2004-2007)

Research Interests:

Modern Europe:
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