An Interdisciplinary Research Project on “Soviet Spirituality” in Latvia

The Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the University of Latvia, one of ReIReS’ collaboration partners, has launched a new interdisciplinary research project “Soviet Spirituality” in Latvia: development, features and models of influence. Researchers are invited to share ideas about a possible future cooperation.

Soviet Spirituality

The project is set up in the context of current interest in the international academic environment about the influence and consequences of totalitarian regimes’ ideology in intellectual, cultural and religious practices. In this project, ‘Soviet spirituality’ is understood as implementing Soviet ideology via quasi-spiritual and quasi-religious discourse and practices like new Soviet traditions to replace the traditions rooted in Christianity. Research on atheism and anti-religious propaganda has been conducted in the Baltic States, Russia, other former Soviet republics and the so-called “Soviet bloc” countries. Meanwhile, the “Soviet spirituality”, that is, the influence of Soviet ideology in the spheres of spiritual life and the shift from the “struggle against religion” to the “struggle for Soviet spiritual life”, has so far been little studied.


An in-depth interdisciplinary study of “Soviet spirituality” is also innovative in Latvia, where this phenomenon had different development factors and features. The multi-confessional and multicultural Latvian society has created the uniqueness of the Latvian case for many centuries. Even after the Second World War, Latvia was one of the most important and diverse spiritual and religious centres in the Soviet Union. Catholics, Orthodox, Old Believers and various Protestant traditions continued to operate here under challenging persecution and anti-religious propaganda. Several new spiritual and religious groups also were active underground.

The leading Christian churches, despite the problematic policy of compromise with the Soviet authorities, took every opportunity, on the one hand, to express their views on spirituality and religiosity and to recall the Christian worldview and its landmarks. On the other hand, the Soviet regime set its standards of values, rules of conduct, and new rituals to characterise all life cycles of the Soviet man, from birth to death. The relations between these two parties were also influenced by the unique context of Latvia’s cultural and intellectual life, in which memories of the independent pre-war Republic of Latvia, its religious and cultural heritage were always present. These complex interactions can be seen in the examples of fiction and visual culture of that time.

The Current Project

The project will thematise and analyse various sources to describe the formation and change of “Soviet spirituality” and the related models of influence, such as archival documents, interviews and “cultural texts”: examples of fiction and art. Project duration is from December 1, 2020, up to December 31, 2021. The project is headed by Solveiga Krumina-Konkova, the leading researcher of the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology at the University of Latvia.

A Possible Future Project

One of the future ideas of the research group is an international project on secular spirituality in a modern digital society. Researchers are currently looking for potential partners from other European Union countries to implement this idea.

If you have ideas about a possible cooperation, please write an e-mail to Solveiga Krumina.