Cluster II: Orthodox Christianity & Globalization

My interest in Eastern Orthodox Christianity grew out of the close connections between religious and national identities in Southeastern Europe. For nearly a decade (2004 – 2014) it was a dominant theme in my publications. While my overreaching effort has been to articulate the theoretical relationship between Orthodox Christianity and globalization, there are also several publications that are exclusively empirical or related explicitly to specific regional contexts (Greece, Cyprus, US, Western Europe).

Overall, my work has addressed both regional as well as general facets of this religious tradition. Editing the volume Eastern Orthodoxy in a Global Age (Alta Mira Press, 2005) offered me the opportunity to present an overview of the state of post-1989 Eastern Orthodoxy. The volume includes descriptions of religious responses by several Eastern European churches (Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Serbia and Greece) to the challenges of post-1989 integration into the common European home as well as explorations of the transnational dimension of Eastern Orthodoxy, including recent developments in the Eastern Orthodox churches of North America. This project led to an additional volume Orthodox Christianity in 21st Century Greece (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2010). That volume's objective is to allow scholars to gain a better knowledge of an Eastern Orthodox country that has never experienced communism - and hence to offer a point of comparison vis-a-vis the post-communist Orthodox societies of Eastern Europe. In this manner, scholars can differentiate the institutional and cultural characteristics of Eastern Orthodoxy from those features related to the post-communist legacy.

From 2009 forward, my work has moved toward a fusion of two research streams of past research (e.g. globalization/glocalization and religion). This fusion materialized with my third monograph Globalization and Orthodox Christianity (London: Routledge, 2014 hc; 2017, paperback). This book is based on more than a decade of work in this field. It further includes a considerable amount of additional research into Orthodox Christianity's historical record. The book argues against the popular view that Orthodoxy is a backward - looking branch of Christianity that remains out of touch from broader cross-regional trends. Instead, I argue that globalization and globality have had a profound impact in shaping the orientation and future direction of Orthodox institutions. The book advances the thesis that Orthodox Christianity has been historically shaped by different waves of globalization and that in turn it has assumed distinct formats in different cultural contexts and eras. Four distinct forms of glocalization are identified (vernacularization, indigenization, nationalization and transnationalization). The book offers historical vignettes from Orthodoxy's long historical record to demonstrate the presence and shape of these cultural hybrids.

Some of these arguments are presented in my 2008 article on the relationship among globality, territoriality and Orthodox Christianity, published in Sociology of Religion. Articles that offer a brief preview of the book's thesis have been published in the European Journal of Social Theory (2013) and the e-journal Religions (2014); while individual chapters addressing the topics of religion, glocalization and globalization have appeared in the edited volumes Sage Handbook of Globalization (2014), European Glocalization in a Global Context (2014) and Eastern Christianity and Politics in the 21st Century (2014).

An important dimension in my engagement with Orthodox Christianity is the relationship between Orthodox Christianity, on the one hand, and the experience of diaspora and immigration, on the other hand. In this respect, my interest in religion coincides with my interest in the study of transnational communities and diasporas. Using qualitative and historical approaches I have authored or co-authored (jointly with Anna Karpathakis) several articles and chapters on the Hellenic Diaspora & the Greek American community (Roudometof and Karpathakis, 2002; Karpathakis and Roudometof, 2004; Roudometof, 2000; 2010). An extension of my work on Orthodox Christianity as a transnational religion is the publication of a special section on Orthodox Christianity in Western Europe for the journal Religion, State and Society (2015). This special section is based on the panels organized during the 2013 congress of the International Society for Sociology of Religion. It represents an inquiry into hitherto understudied groups of immigrants that increased considerably during the post-World War II era. My own contribution to the special issue involves a discussion of Orthodox demographic trends in Western Europe & a cross-regional comparison with North America.

Lastly, living in Cyprus offered me the opportunity to use the island's contemporary events and historical record to further inquire into the relationship between Orthodox Christianity and local society & culture. As Cyprus correspondent for the international research network EUREL - Sociological and Legal Data on Religion in Europe, I collected and solicited several entries on a variety of topics related to the multiple functions of religion in Cyprus. In 2009, I edited the first-ever special issue of a major international journal (Social Compass) focusing on religion in Cyprus. The special issue covers a variety of topics. These range from analyses of the 2006 World Values Survey to an examination of the role of minority religions in Cyprus to historical analyses of the role of Orthodoxy and Islam in the island's political and cultural life. I have also authored two general overviews of the Church of Cyprus which appear in Eastern Christianity and the Cold War (2010) & Eastern Christianity and Politics in the Twenty-First Century (2013). These volumes represent the current state of the art in the field of Eastern Christianity.

Additional work on religion in Cyprus includes articles and chapters whose topics include: An analysis of the 2006 Archiepiscopal elections of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus; the evolution of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus during the colonial (1878-1960) and post-colonial periods; an examination of the socio-economic functions of monastic institutions on the island (co-authored with M. Michael); and an article on the economic activities of the Church of Cyprus, focusing especially on the 2013 financial meltdown.

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