Islam, Christianity, and Secularism in Bulgaria and Eastern Europe

The Last Half Century


Is there a “return to the religious” in post-Communist Eastern Europe that differs from religious trends in the West and the Middle East? Looking beyond immediate events, this book situates public talk about religion and religious practice in the longue durée of the two entangled pasts —Byzantine and Ottoman—that implicitly underpin contemporary politics. Islam, Christianity, and Secularism situates Bulgaria in its wider region, indicating ongoing Middle Eastern, Russian, and other European influences shaping patterns of religious identity. The chapters point to overlapping and complementary views of ethno-religious belonging and communal practices among Orthodox Christians and Muslims throughout the region. Contributors are Dale F. Eickelman, Simeon Evstatiev, Kristen Ghodsee, Galina Evstatieva, Ilia Iliev, Daniela Kalkandjieva, Plamen Makariev, Momchil Metodiev, Daria Oreshina, Ivan Zabaev and Angeliki Ziaka.

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Simeon Evstatiev is Professor of Near Eastern history and Islamic studies at Sofia University St. Kliment Ohdridski (Bulgaria). His books include Religion and Politics in the Arab World (2nd ed., 2012) and Salafism in the Middle East and the Boundaries of Faith (2018).

Dale F. Eickelman is Research Professor of Anthropology at Dartmouth College (U.S.A.). His books include Russia’s Muslim Frontiers (edited, 1993), The Middle East and Central Asia (4th ed., 2002), and Muslim Politics (with James Piscatori, new edition, 2004).
Note on Transliteration

List of Figures

Notes on Contributors

 Introduction On the Eastern Edge of Europe: Christianity, Islam, and the Bulgarian Political Imagination
  Dale F. Eickelman and Simeon Evstatiev

part 1
Secularism in Bulgaria and Its Region
1 Byzantine and Ottoman Pasts, Modern Politics Religious Belongings and Balkan Secularities
  Simeon Evstatiev and Dale F. Eickelman

2 Regulating Religious Freedoms in the 21st Century Nationality, Religion, and Symphonic Secularism
  Kristen Ghodsee

3 Salafism Is Coming “Balkan” versus “Arab” Islam in Bulgaria under Milletic Secularism
  Simeon Evstatiev

part 2
Christian and Muslim Men and Women under State Atheism and Postsocialist Secularism
4 Symbols and Identity in Bulgaria Parallels between Communist Atheism and Western Secularism
  Momchil Metodiev

5 Caesar and God in the Public Sphere Religious and Secular Discourse in Post-Atheist Bulgaria
  Daniela Kalkandjieva

6 The Hijab in Contemporary Bulgaria Muslim Views on Veiling
  Galina Evstatieva

7 Fasting and Aging in a Bulgarian Muslim Community
  Ilia Iliev

part 3
Religion, Publicity, and Concealment in Orthodox-Majority Societies
8 Parallel Paths Christian-Muslim Symbiosis and Religious Education in Greece
  Angeliki Ziaka

9 The Russian Orthodox Church Federal Visibility Versus Local-Level Concealment
  Ivan Zabaev and Daria Oreshina

10 Religion and the Challenges of Public Legitimization The Bulgarian Orthodox Church
  Plamen Makariev


Advanced undergraduate students, graduate students, scholars, and a general public interested in long-term religious and political developments in Bulgaria and Eastern Europe; and sociologists of religion.
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