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In Search of Post-Secular Feminism

March 19, 2020

The American Philosophical Society has awarded Dr. Maria Hristova, Assistant Professor of Russian and Russian Section Head, a $6,000 Franklin Research grant. Dr. Hristova’s proposed project, “In Search of Post-Secular Feminism: Contemporary Post-Socialist Literature,” will focus on how Kazakh women writers imagine and articulate the connection between female autonomy and religious experiences. Franklin grant support will enable Dr. Hristova to spend her upcoming sabbatical researching primary materials at the National Library and National Archive in Kazakhstan and at the Russian State Library in Moscow, Russia. She will explore how a heightened visibility of Christian Orthodox, Muslim, and neo-pagan narratives and tropes in post-Soviet Central Asian cultures are used by women writers to express and define female identity. More specifically, this project will explore Kazakh women’s artistic responses to the pressures exerted on female socio-political and biological autonomy by the politicization of religious discourse. This project will expand Dr. Hristova’s previous work in a new, broader direction—building on her previous studies on ethnic Russian women writers and exploring the possibility of articulating a post-secularism feminism in post-socialist art.

This competitive award is Dr. Hristova’s third since she joined the Lewis & Clark World Languages and Literatures department in 2017. Last year she received support to participate in the NEH Summer Seminar “Religion, Secularism, and the Novel”, and in 2018 she was selected to participate in ASIANetwork’s faculty enhancement program, “Religion in National and International Affairs in China and India.” Participation in these programs has contributed to Dr. Hristova’s research program as well as her pedagogy, and her work in Kazakhstan and Russia this fall will result in a publication and the further integration of her scholarship into the classroom.

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