This essay explores the Uniate Catholic Church of Ukraine and its recent successes in resource allocation in the capital city of Kyiv. Positing that the social use of space allows a people to negotiate the geographies of power that surround them, this article argues that, in excavating the ideology inscribed in their architectural style and spatial appropriations, we come to understand the ways in which the Uniate community in Kyiv is articulating a unique post-Soviet identity.
Cet article examine l’église catholique uniate d’Ukraine et ses récents succès dans les lieux de son implantation dans la capitale de Kiev. En assumant que l’usage social de l’espace permet à une population de négocier la géographie du pouvoir qui l’entoure, cet article soutient que, par la mise au jour de l’idéologie inscrite dans le style architectural et les appropriations spatiales, nous pouvons parvenir à comprendre par quels moyens la communauté uniate de Kiev parvient à articuler une identité postsoviétique unique.
Pedro Ramet (1984) once argued that contemporary churches may be regarded as “vestigial political organizations par excellence,” especially where the former Soviet Union is concerned (3). However, in light of changes that have occurred in Ukraine over the last decade, it would seem that Ramet’s claims of vestigiality are specious at best. For churches throughout Ukraine are using religion as a means of focusing their concerns, not about the afterlife, but about organizing the world they see around them.
Surveys conducted from the mid-1990’s onward show that religion has developed and maintained a firm hold over the Ukrainian psyche since 1991. For instance, a survey conducted in 1996 showed that 69% of all Ukrainians expressed either some or great confidence in church institutions, 8% higher than their confidence in the army and 22% higher than their confidence in President Leonid Kuchma (Gibson 1996: 29). This was a marked change from 1992, when their faith in the Communist Party ranked first.
Although about fifteen million Ukrainians identify themselves as either atheist or as “Christian” but unaffiliated with any specific Church, the remaining 37 million identify themselves with particular faiths. Of those, roughly 21 million belong to some form of Orthodox Christianity, while about five million are Uniate Catholic, ranking Uniate Catholicism as the second most populated religion in the country (Hesli 2000). Despite Orthodoxy’s continued numerical dominance, these recent numbers indicate that the Uniate faith has made significant gains over the last eleven years.
Uniate Catholicism traces its roots to sixteenth-century Poland. Seeking to escape social oppression under Poland’s feudal system, Orthodox bishops signed a treaty with Rome in 1596 that resulted in the creation of a unique Church. Called the Greek Catholic Church (later colloquially referred to as Uniate Catholic), it blended together Orthodox practice with Catholic dogma. Like Roman Catholics, Uniate Catholics accept papal authority as primary, accept the idea of purgatory despite its absence from the Bible, and affirm the distinction between accidents (i.e., the chemical composition of the bread and wine used in the Eucharist) and substances (i.e., the idea that the bread and wine actually become the Body and Blood of Christ). However, like the Orthodox, the Uniates rely upon the same three Orders of the Mass, observe many of the same holidays at the same time, maintain the Orthodox doctrine of the Trinity (i.e., the Holy Spirit does not constitute a Third Person), and allow priests to wed.
Uniate Catholicism became the dominant faith in the territory known as Galicia (today’s Western Ukraine) in the seventeenth century and remained so until the middle of the twentieth century. When the Soviets occupied the territory following World War II, Josef Stalin outlawed the Uniate Church and transferred its property to the Orthodox Church, which had proven itself loyal to the regime. When the Uniate Church was allowed to register again in 1989 under orders from then General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, the Church immediately sprang back to life. On the first day of registration, the Uniate faith registered 300 parishes, with 200 formerly Orthodox priests converting literally overnight (Ramet 1998; Anderson 1994). So overwhelming were the numbers, in fact, that in early 1990, the Orthodox Church in Ukraine began claiming that the Catholics had violently seized the churches that had converted, despite videotaped evidence from a Canadian television crew to the contrary (Anderson 1994: 254). Members of the Orthodox leadership in Ukraine even began calling upon Gorbachev to restore law and order by restoring property “stolen” by the Uniates to its rightful Orthodox owners and by ousting pro-Uniate nationalist authorities (Bociurkiw 1995: 138). From 1991 until 1997, the situation remained substantially unchanged, with the faiths bickering back and forth over land rights and property.
In 1998, however, events occurred that seemed to upset the balance of power in Kyiv in favor of the Uniates. For example, the Church of St. Nicholas, a Uniate church that had been used as a park rotunda during the Soviet era, was restored in the capital city through the use of municipal funds (“Kyiv bishop” 1998). Another project also began in 1998 involving the construction of a large Uniate church dedicated to St. Vasylii, a project that is costing the city of Kyiv some US$600,000 (Woronowycz 1998). But when one considers that, in 1998, the Uniate Church had registered only about eight percent of the population — and most of that coming from Western Ukraine — one wonders why the Uniates were suddenly receiving the perquisites that had been enjoyed for centuries by the Orthodox in the capital city.
I contend that the Uniate Catholic faith fashioned for itself a more appealing identity space through its architecture and spatial appropriations between 1989, when it was first allowed to register, and 1998. This essay draws upon ethnographic data collected between 1994 and 1998 to demonstrate how the daily performance of Uniate identity allowed the Uniate Catholic Church in Kyiv to undermine the numerical superiority of the Orthodox Church with its own ideological superiority. That is, Uniate Catholicism has become more competitive in resource allocation via an ideology that carries greater appeal to resource gatekeepers.
Although I do not advance the idea of critical space as some radically new concept here, I underscore the idea that space is an important artifact in cultural critique. In the 1950s, Harold Innis (1995/1951) saw space as a critical element underlying the spread of religion, political power, and nationalism, asserting that all three developed as ways to organize the spaces that different groups sought to control. Today, space is seen in much the same way, as both a site for and a product of the negotiation of ideology (Turner 1992). It is a site for negotiation in that social practices are spatially contingent; it is a product of negotiation in that space is also treated as signification (Aronowitz 1995).
Bound up in this negotiation process, we also intimately become aware of identity. Although we come to the table as individuals, we ultimately assent to the signifying of social practices as groups, thus evoking Raymond Williams’ (1976) two senses of the individual: the individual as solitary human being and the individual as indivisible, that is, necessarily connected to the greater whole of society. But whereas Williams privileged the historical nature of the juncture at which this process occurred, I do not. Rather, I choose to see this negotiation as an ongoing performance, one that is informed by past negotiations, but no more and no less than it is by the present dislocations that invite us to the table. Thus I use the term “identity space” to denote the concrete social juncture at which questions of identity, power, and agency are articulated and negotiated.
What of these dislocations, though? What is it that brings us to the negotiating table in the first place? The answer to that, I believe, lies in language. The worlds in which we find ourselves are products of the words we choose (McPhail 1996). They are phenomena that we constitute via language. What we trade in, in other words, is not fact, but connotation, and connotations are not things, but relationships. The images that they evoke are not stable and are not exclusively visual, but involve “multisensory apprehension and interpretation” (Mitchell 1986: 14). They create multiple realities, complete with definitions of what comprises a norm and what comprises an infraction (Edelman 1995). This is what I believe Gaston Bachelard (1994) was referring to when he suggested that language consists of symbolic pronouncements that carry with them certain obligations. And this is why I believe Roland Barthes (1977) can rightfully say that a social situation can be read in a gesture. Each pronouncement, each deployment of language, engages us in symbolic struggles, almost literally wars of words (Hauser 1995).
In understanding a group’s identity space, then, it is essential that we do not regard space as a discrete entity, but as a network of meanings that resonate with traces of a variety of performances. For space is itself a representation of the “social, socially produced, and socially reproducing” (Urry 1995: 66), one concerned with “relations of power,...imbued with meaning and symbolism” (Massey 1994: 158). But at the same time it is a geography, where ideology is both reinforced and challenged through topographical arrangements (Spain 1992). Thus, it is not only incumbent upon the investigator to establish the repertory of convictions that describe a particular space (Ortega 1962) but to discern as well the conditions of enunciation imposed upon those convictions by the very space being contested (Sayyid 1994).
Observations on the Ethnographic Approach
When I conducted pilot studies on the use of language in Ukraine in March 1994, I followed a traditional interview procedure. I randomly chose street corners, metro stations, and bus stops in Kyiv based upon a map of the city. I positioned myself in these places, devoting one day to each place. And I approached every third person in the hope of obtaining an interview. I asked a battery of questions that took approximately ten to fifteen minutes to complete and I discarded interviews in which the subject departed before the battery of questions was completed. The result was that I obtained a sample of just over 30 participants in four days.
Those early studies were invaluable because they demonstrated to me three key features about Ukrainians. First, if I asked Ukrainians a battery of questions, I would probably have obtained another relatively small sample because few people had the inclination to engage a stranger in conversation for that length of time. But I wanted to obtain as large a sample as possible so that any conclusions I might reach from my study would rest on a credible foundation. So, I needed to develop an approach that would allow me to ask relatively few questions in as short a time as possible. Second, I discovered very quickly that Ukrainians adopted a particularly defensive posture when answering survey questions, mostly due to their conditioning under a strict ideological regime. I therefore needed an approach that removed as much of the “interviewer” persona as possible from my interactions with the Ukrainian people. In short, I wanted to find an approach that allowed me to be conversational and non-threatening. Lastly, I realized that city streets, metro stations, and bus stops would not be the places to conduct interviews about religion. These spaces were constructed as part of the business and commercial life of the populace. What I would need to do, then, was to engage people on the subject of religion where they practiced it, in their homes and in their churches.
The data I obtained for this study thus consisted of participant observation, audiotaped interviews of individual adherents of Uniate Catholicism, extended interviews of families adhering to Uniate Catholicism, and videotape of architectural styles, iconography, and individual worship patterns. In the summer of 1994, when this study began, the official language of Kyiv was still Russian; therefore, I used Russian in all my interviews to preserve uniformity in the data collection. I translated the responses into English, translating Russian idiomatic expressions into their American English equivalents rather than literally, except where noted. In the text, the Russian sentences, including any grammatical errors enunciated by the participants, are presented along with their English equivalents for verification. I also transcribed all audio and video information. Supplementary data emerged from my own personal experiences, from participants’ observations on my data evaluations, and from written field notes.
A total of 462 individuals participated in this study. Of these, thirteen were members of the host families with whom I lived in Kyiv. The remaining 449 were subjects of brief, three to five minute interviews following a relaxed interview schedule. That is, I would introduce myself to the potential interview subject as an American researcher studying Uniate Catholicism in Ukraine. I would then ask the subject if he or she would volunteer to answer a few questions. If the subject refused, the interaction was terminated. If the subject accepted, the interview continued. I would then ask the subject questions based upon my observation of the subject’s behavior. For example, if I saw a worshipper praying near the tabernacle and not near the iconography, I focused my questions on the style of prayer that subject adopted and did not raise the issue of iconography unless the subject raised that issue in the course of our conversation. If I could discern no particular pattern to the subject’s worship, I used the opportunity to confirm some of the observations that other subjects had made. Generally, I used this conversational approach mainly in the churches and with friends and neighbors of the families who hosted me. With the host families themselves, however, I used a more traditional battery of questions because of the length of time and the higher level of trust that these situations afforded me.
Of what benefit was this approach? First, it allowed me to engage people on their terms, rather than imposing my agendas on the worshippers through a fixed schedule. My focus on a small part of their behavior drew their interpretations out in casual conversation by noting the words they used, the gestures that accompanied those words, the contexts, and so forth. By relying on standard conversation, I allowed the conversation and natural observation to dictate the directions in which my questions should proceed rather than be bound to a particular series of questions asked in a particular order. Thus, if I noticed that a person made a unique comment about some phenomenon or experience, I pursued that comment and its entailments until I was satisfied that I understood the person’s position. In effect, through this approach, I freed myself from the “interviewer” persona that seemed to repel many people in my first study, although I was not completely successful in that many people still adopted defensive postures in their responses to my questions.
Second, because I used conversation as my guide, I was able to make the interaction as long or as brief as necessary. Just as everyday conversation progresses and wanes, so my interviews pursued interesting themes or allowed a person in a hurry to provide me with important observations only. For instance, if a person’s nonverbal cues related an impatience to disengage the conversation (e.g., looking at a watch, looking toward the door, constant shifting of position, etc.), I was free to end the conversation after only three or four questions. In contrast, I probed interpretations with any person who seemed to be enjoying the conversation. This flexibility allowed me the opportunity to speak with many people and retain many results.
Lastly, when I interacted with my host families, I took advantage of the opportunity to verify some of the observations that my subjects had offered. That is, I allowed my host families access to my notes and to my audio recordings to comment critically on what they read or heard, respectively. Consequently, I avoided accepting every response as equally reliable or dismissing inadvertently other responses based on my own uninformed criteria.
This approach provided me with the opportunity to “get at the whole [of Uniate Catholic practice] through one or more of its parts” (Clifford 1988: 31) by specifically focusing in on situational aspects that the respondents felt competent enough to discuss. These parts, in fact, were “conceptually and perceptually cut out of the flux of [the total] experience” according to the directions provided the “clues, traces, gestures, and scraps of sense” found in/about the Ukrainian spaces under scrutiny (1988: 38, 36). Hence, I was able to appreciate some of the complexities of religious life in Ukraine. Further, I believe that the approach allowed me to discern “patterns of associations that point[ed] to coherent… additional meanings” (Clifford 1986: 100), each with their own ideological valences. Finally, I maintain that this approach allowed me to engage Ukrainian discourse in/on its own terms to “render the foreign familiar and preserve its very foreignness at one and the same time” (Crapanzano 1986: 52). In other words, I do not believe that my short visits with Uniate Catholics in Ukraine made me an insider, but they did provide me with important insights into identity construction, which I will now enunciate.
Uniate Architecture in the Capital
Architecturally, Uniate churches in Kyiv tend to be either of the same height as surrounding structures or shorter. For example, the Uniate church near the major diplomatic centers was approximately ten to twenty feet lower than the trees of the surrounding forest glade, making it impossible to see from the nearby road. This feature seems to be particularly characteristic of Uniate architecture throughout the country. In Odessa, for instance, the Uniate church on Tsarintsa Ekaterina Street was so far recessed from the street that, when I first approached the area, I thought I was approaching a vacant lot. Further, it was dwarfed on either side by apartment complexes that stretched seven floors and ten floors higher, respectively.
I asked several people why the churches were hidden from plain sight. One elderly woman simply shrugged and said, “Beggars can’t be choosers [Ну, кто не имеет деньги, что может делать]”. The answer portrayed an economic aspect insofar as its literal translation implied that those who have money could acquire more prestigious or more populated locations for property. Most people surmised that the spaces might have been the only ones available when the religion registered in 1989 [e.g., Не знаю точно, но наверно только это место осталось]. A few others responded by reassuring me, saying, “Don’t worry, we know where it is [Не бойтес! Мы знаем где это]”, suggesting that knowledge of the church’s location was used as a sign or privilege of membership. Another possible explanation that I gleaned from geographic evidence was that these spaces may have once been granaries or barns and had been appropriated by the Uniates after the registration period when they were denied access to church spaces through official channels. It would therefore stand to reason that these structures would be positioned at some distance from other buildings. But I was unable to confirm or deny this explanation through the interview procedures.
The churches themselves tend to be made of large white or ecru stones or bricks. The single cupola atop the church is made of the same type of stone as the rest of the structure. At the apex of the cupola, one finds a single cross.
Unlike Orthodoxy, which features a cross with three bars — one bar near the top, the bar for the arms, and one angled diagonally below the feet of the crucified Christ — the Uniate faith distinguishes itself by a plain wooden cross. As one woman told me, “We are a simple people with simple beliefs. We need only simple things [Мы простые люди с простой верой. Нам надо только простые веɪɪɪи]”. When pressed for further explanation, the woman told me that, rather than using gold or ornate carvings to decorate their churches or their crosses, Uniates needed only wood and stone.
At first, I believed that she was referring to the Orthodox practice of guilding their cupolae and crosses in gold. But Uniate Catholic churches in L’viv also feature gold cupolae. Many pastors explained to me in L’viv and in the nearby city of Volodimir-Volins’kij that the main reason those cupolae were covered in gold was because the Orthodox had taken the churches over during the latter decades of the Soviet era and simply had not had the resources to expand the churches, adding smaller cupolae around the central one. So, to show that the churches were in Orthodox hands, the administrators gilded the cupolae in gold, which is used extensively in the iconography of Orthodoxy (Mueller 2000). But when local councils throughout the 1990s returned the churches to the Uniates, the Uniates simply settled back in, seeing no need to alter the design. As one rural pastor said, “What would you have me do, give them back their gold [Что вы хотите, чтобы я буду дать золото назад]”? Nonetheless, the woman’s specific reference to gold allows for the possibility of Uniate Catholics in Kyiv consciously setting up distinctions between Uniate churches and Orthodox churches on the one hand and Uniate churches in Kyiv and those in L’viv on the other.
The area outside of the church is very limited. Although the grounds leading up to the church are paved, the paved areas are carefully landscaped with gardens and mesh neatly with the surrounding tree lines. The result is that few people mill about outside the church because there simply is little space to do so. Instead, people are forced to go inside the church or to walk some two or three hundred feet away from the church, where the ground is more open, to have an extended conversation with each other. This landscaping feature seems peculiar to the Kyivan Uniate church since all of the churches I visited in western Ukraine and in Odessa had ample space outside the church for people to congregate. When asked about this lack of space, several subjects told me, “Well, what do you want? We’re going to church, not a museum [Ну, что? Мы идем в церковь, не в музей]”. Other than those responses, however, no one had any explanation to offer.
Upon entering a Uniate church, one faces a self-contained sanctuary. That is, much like the contemporary Roman Catholic churches found throughout North America, there are no clearly definable east and west wings inside the sanctuary. The wooden cross hanging above the main altar features a single white cloth draped over the horizontal bar, with each end hanging loosely where the arms of the outstretched Christ would be located on a crucifix. To assist the reader in visualizing this further, it appears very much like the Paschal cross used at Eastertide in most Christian denominations in North America.
The interior walls of a Uniate church feature iconic representations of the saints, either on separate panels of wood or on cloth banners hung from nails. The main icons are those of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of the Blessed Mother holding the infant Jesus, with the infant’s arms wrapped around her neck. Other icons include portrait-like representations of the saints — invariably Peter, James, Paul, and John — and of the reigning pope, in this case Pope John Paul II.
The interior dimensions of the church are cramped in comparison to a standard Orthodox church. Whereas an Orthodox church is divided into east and west wings, providing believers with more than enough space to move about and to interact, a Uniate church tends to be less than half the size of an Orthodox church. These closer quarters force people to adopt different standards of spatial orientation than they would otherwise adopt in society, a fact I quickly discovered. For example, under normal social circumstances, when interviewing a total stranger, I would stand approximately six to ten feet away from the person, in a somewhat formal social orientation to the interviewee. In a Uniate church, the interior dimensions forced me to stand within three feet of my interviewee, in an intimate spatial orientation. While I understand that, in church, people tend to stand and worship very close together, they usually choose to do so sitting or standing near people they recognize or with whom they are related first, and only then choosing to sit or stand near a stranger. Given the architectural dimensions of a Uniate church, however, there was no room for choice to enter the interaction.
A large crucifix is laid in the center of the church, the hands and feet of which the faithful often kiss upon entering, as one teenage girl noted, “to say hello to Christ [Мы должны сказать ʻдобрый деньʼ Христосу]”. After kissing the crucifix, the Uniates proceed to the front of the church, where two areas are established on either side of the main altar specifically for candles [свечки], which may be purchased for a few coins at a small desk to the left of the church’s main entrance. The Uniates place the candles into the sand provided, cross themselves, silently offer their prayers, then return to the main part of the church to pray further or to wait for the liturgy to be celebrated. Although this latter practice is common to both Orthodoxy and Uniate Catholicism, the location of the candles is what makes an important difference.
Although the architectural design of the interior of the church is certainly a factor in the placing of candles at the front of the church, the layout alone is not sufficient to explain why the little space left around the interior perimeter of the church is not used to house smaller vessels to hold the candles. One explanation offered to me by the local pastors was that the placing of the candles ties into Catholic teachings about the saints. That is, the saints are not adored in Catholicism, only venerated, used as mediators between the believer and God at best. By contrast, in Orthodoxy, saints, especially Saint Nicholas and Saint Barbara, are held in very high esteem. Views offered by more than a few subjects seemed to confirm this de-emphasis of the saints. But perhaps two elderly women presented this de-emphasis best when they offered, “Why should we put the candles there (i.e., on the side)? The liturgy happens up front (lit., in the center). We offer our gifts up front. Why put the candles where the icons are? [Почему мы должны свечки подставить там? В центре подается литургия. Мы предлогаем наɪɪɪи пожертвование в центре. Почему мы должны подставить свечки около иконы?]”
Lastly, it is important to note that, in a Uniate church in Kyiv, one notices the cold in the winter months much more markedly than one does in Orthodox churches. During almost every interview session that I conducted in a winter month, I was able to see my breath inside the church. As one pastor told me, heating units are very expensive and require much oil or gas, commodities not always in supply in Ukraine. In response to a similar question posed to a middle-aged man, the man merely pointed to the cross and said, “He [Jesus] sacrificed his life for me. I can be a little cold for Him [Он ложертвовал свой жизнь для меня. Я могу чуть быть холодным к ним]”.
Reading a culture’s architecture is like learning the grammatical rules of a language. One builds up enough circumstantial evidence to hypothesize what the rule is, then tests the rule in future encounters. This essay, in limiting itself to uncovering the stylistic rules of Uniate architecture, necessarily leaves open the question of testing its findings for future research. However, given the sample size of the study, I have confidence in the evidence presented above. Therefore, I now move to analyzing the data and formulating the “rules”.
When viewed in the context of its everyday enunciation, Uniate architecture seems to epitomize the spirit of the old folk saying, “The tallest blade of grass is the first to be cut down by the scythe” (Smith 1991: 203). A Uniate church’s physical lack of height or prominence suggests either a desire to subordinate itself to or to blend in seamlessly with the other structures of everyday life. Worshippers are forced to interact together on more intimate terms both because of the interior dimensions of the church and the landscaping outside of the church. The church interiors are not separated into eastern and western sections, but instead present a unified image to the average viewer. It stands to reason, then, that one element of a Uniate architectural grammar consists of emphasizing community building and community maintenance.
This aspect may not be surprising, given that the Latin root of the word “communion” means to “walk with” others. But again, what is different about the Uniate emphasis on community in Kyiv is that it literally and figuratively provides little space for the individual as solitary human being. Literally, because of the landscaping, individuals wishing to conduct private conversations with one another need to either do so in the church or some distance away from the church. Figuratively, a de-emphasis of the individual saints tends to either remove the saints from personal consciousness or to stress instead the community of saints as a whole. Thus, in both lived praxis and by iconic example, the Uniate Church in Kyiv de-emphasizes the personal world of the individual in favor of the more public realm of the individual as indivisible from the greater whole of society.
Interestingly enough, the community formed in this way does not seem to be a community of believers as such, but a community the orientation of which is directed toward a reverence for the “folk.” From its plain cross to its portrayal of Mary as a mother to the lack of gold in its iconography, the Uniate church portrays itself as a church of the folk. Rather than an ornate roof, it features stone. Rather than a building that dominates the skyline as an Orthodox church does, a Uniate church gives deference to the much larger apartment houses of the city and the trees of a forest glade. In other words, the emphasis in a Uniate Catholic church in Kyiv seems to favor the everyday over the special and the natural over the modern, qualities that tend to surface in the country’s popular image of its “folk.”
When seen in this light, we can begin to appreciate the recent “nationalization” of the Uniate Church and the growing articulation of a view of the Church as a national institution. The idea of the “folk” is a common rallying point for many nationalist efforts, and not just in Ukraine. Cultural nationalists the world over often stress that a nation is a primordial expression (Hutchinson 1994) that draws its power from what is natural or native (Barker 1964). The essence of the nation, then, is fundamentally social or communal (Volkstum) (Jahn 1964). In emphasizing a community of the “folk,” then, the Uniate Church in Kyiv is at least tacitly encouraging its followers to see Ukraine not as a simple geographic area, but as a national space that derives its values from the inside, from the beliefs, attitudes, and values of its people.
Survey data tends to corroborate such an observation. One set of surveys conducted in 1995 showed that Uniate Catholics were the ones demonstrating higher levels of education, higher levels of political and legal activism, and higher levels of voter turnout (Hesli et al. 1996). More recent studies indicate that Uniate Catholics show a strongly negative attitude toward the CIS, Russia, and the Russian language (Khmelko and Wilson 1998); provide the support base for the second most powerful party in the Ukrainian parliament, RUKH, a strongly nationalist political organization (Birch 1998); and identify more strongly with Ukraine than with either Russia or the Soviet Union when asked about group affiliation (Solchanyk 1998). Finally, survey data collected in 2000 show that Uniate Catholics more consistently vote for nationalist or republic-oriented candidates than any of the other faiths except Autocephalous Orthodoxy, with 96% of the Uniate faithful casting ballots for such candidates (Hesli 2000).
The twin emphases on community building and maintenance and the reverence for the folk that Uniate architecture and spatial appropriations promote would have broad appeal to resource gatekeepers in contemporary Kyivan society. The de-emphasis of the individual in favor of the community carries some appeal for the more hard-line Communist factions. The emphasis on community-building, strengthening, and maintenance appeals to the Social Democrats and their platforms. The nationalist folk emphases tend to fall in line with RUKH’s platforms. And the tacit appeal to the internal value and strength of the Ukrainian people would carry weight with the republic-oriented factions. Thus, the Uniate Church in Kyiv and its projects would at least theoretically be able to attract more supporters than its Orthodox rivals, who tend to receive support predominantly from Communist and Social Democratic factions.
In this study, we find evidence that the Uniate Church in Kyiv is manipulating its spatial orientations with resource ends in mind. The differences arising between church landscaping in Kyiv and other parts of the country and the different materials featured in church cupolae in Kyiv and L’viv suggest that something more than architectural or ecumenical idiosyncrasy underlies the Uniate agenda in Kyiv. The intense resource competition that characterizes Ukrainian affairs in a weak economic environment seems a sufficient motivator. And given that resources have been allocated to the Uniate Church in Kyiv at a level higher than its competitors in recent years, I am led to conclude that the differences that characterize the church make a difference in Kyivan political affairs.
There are two limitations to this study that I believe can and should be addressed in future research. First, as mentioned in the methodology section of this essay, I chose to use Russian throughout my study for the sake of conformity. Given that Ukraine has since adopted Ukrainian as its lingua franca, I suspect that a contemporary study may yield some interesting differences. Since Russian can be (and in western Ukraine, is) seen as the language of Ukraine’s former colonial masters, investigators might receive more cooperation from Uniate respondents than I did in my later studies. This further cooperation might lend new insights into the grammar I have articulated above, leading to better articulation and appreciation of Uniate communal norms.
The second limitation is that this study was conducted as part of a larger study that compared Uniate Catholicism in various towns and cities of Ukraine with various denominations of Orthodoxy. It would be interesting to conduct a much more focused study using either a longitudinal approach analyzing focus groups or a study that specifically focused on Kyiv and was not equally divided in its attention across several towns and cities.
From the vantage point afforded us by a consideration of Uniate Catholic appropriations of space in Kyiv, we can see that the recent successes of the Uniate Church in the area of resource competition are not mere happenstances. Rather, in 1989, the Uniate Catholics emerged from legal marginalization to find themselves situated in Kyiv as an impotent alternative to Ukrainian Orthodoxy. To increase their potency, over the last eleven years, they constructed for themselves a more coherent identity space through steady, calculated, and concerted action, redefining the spaces they encountered to their advantage instead of simply allowing the spaces to dictate particular courses of action. As a result, the Uniate Catholics in Kyiv have been able to position their ideology as a more attractive alternative to resource gatekeepers in Kyivan society. Thus, in the final analysis, it seems that Ramet’s claims about church vestigiality need to be reexamined. For, at least in Ukraine, the church as a political institution continues to thrive and prosper.
Alfred G. Mueller II
Alfred G. Mueller II est professeur assistant en communication des arts et sciences sur le campus Mont Alto de l’Université d’État de Pennsylvanie. Sa thèse de doctorat, rédigée à l’Université de l’Iowa, portait sur les relations entre religion et identité dans l’Ukraine post-soviétique ; il a également été boursier de la Fondation Ford pour étudier les relations entre empire et colonie dans le Caucase. Ses recherches les plus récentes portent sur l’analyse discursive de la construction identitaire en Ukraine ainsi que sur l’étude de la rhétorique des débats se déroulant au Congrès des États-Unis et au Parlement français au sujet du génocide des Arméniens. Il est actuellement partie prenante dans des études pilotes concernant le discours identitaire en Arménie.
Alfred G. Mueller II (Ph.D, University of Iowa) is an assistant professor of communication arts and sciences at the Pennsylvania State University, Mont Alto campus. His dissertation addressed the relationship between religion and identity in post-Soviet Ukraine and he has served as a Ford Foundation Fellow studying the relationship between empire and colony in the Caucasus. His more recent research includes rhetorical analyses of identity creation in Ukraine as well as rhetorical studies of the Armenian genocide debates in the United States Congress and the French Parliament. Currently, he is engaged in pilot studies regarding the rhetoric of identity in the Republic of Armenia.
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