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Languages of Islam and Christianity: Institutional Discourses, Community Strategies and Missionary Rhetoric

On February 20th, Gulnaz Sibgatullina succesfully defended her doctoral thesis and graduated. The Leiden University Centre for Linguistics congratulates Gulnaz on this great result.

Gulnaz Sibgatullina
20 February 2019
Leiden University Repository


This thesis uses a language perspective to examine the complex relationship between Muslims and Christians in post-Soviet Russia, as well as their attitudes vis-à-vis the state. An important conclusion of this thesis is that a religious language variant does not only signal a speaker's religious identity. By opting for a particular language, by using or avoiding specific religious vocabulary, speakers also aim to secure their belonging to desired ethnic, national and political groups. Therefore, along with Orthodox Christians, also Russia’s Muslims instrumentalise the religious variant of the Russian language to gain political influence and social recognition. This process, in turn, affects the prestige of Islamic vernaculars spoken in the country, as the thesis demonstrates through the example of the Tatar language. These sociolinguistic changes, in fact, reflect significant developments within Russia's Islam and Orthodox Christianity. The study reveals that the official institutions of these two religions undergo the process of convergence. Namely, they develop similar views on Russia’s domestic and foreign politics, as well as comparable doctrinal lines of defence against the challenges of modernity, and both of them interpret and protect societal moral norms along the same conservative principles.

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