Dissent on the Margins: How Soviet Jehovahs Witnesses Defied Communism and Lived to Preach About It

Paperback | March 4, 2016

byEmily B. Baran

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Emily B. Baran offers a gripping history of how a small, American-based religious community, the Jehovah's Witnesses, found its way into the Soviet Union after World War II, survived decades of brutal persecution, and emerged as one of the region's fastest growing religions after the SovietUnion's collapse in 1991. In telling the story of this often misunderstood faith, Baran explores the shifting boundaries of religious dissent, non-conformity, and human rights in the Soviet Union and its successor states.Soviet Jehovah's Witnesses are a fascinating case study of dissent beyond urban, intellectual nonconformists. Witnesses, who were generally rural, poorly educated, and utterly marginalized from society, resisted state pressure to conform. They instead constructed alternative communities based onadherence to religious principles established by the Witnesses' international center in Brooklyn, New York. The Soviet state considered Witnesses to be the most reactionary of all underground religious movements, and used extraordinary measures to try to eliminate this threat. Yet Witnessessurvived, while the Soviet system did not. After 1991, they faced continuing challenges to their right to practice their faith in post-Soviet states, as these states struggled to reconcile the proper limits on freedom of conscience with European norms and domestic concerns.Dissent on the Margins provides a new and important perspective on one of America's most understudied religious movements.

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Emily B. Baran offers a gripping history of how a small, American-based religious community, the Jehovah's Witnesses, found its way into the Soviet Union after World War II, survived decades of brutal persecution, and emerged as one of the region's fastest growing religions after the SovietUnion's collapse in 1991. In telling the story...

Emily B. Baran is Assistant Professor of History at Middle Tennessee State University. She specializes in the intersection of religion, modern state politics, and human rights in the postwar Soviet Union and its successor states. She received her PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2011.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:402 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:March 4, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190495499

ISBN - 13:9780190495497

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Table of Contents

List of AbbreviationsMapIntroduction1. Jehovah's Servants in Soviet Lands: A Prehistory2. ''I Will Be His Witness Until Death''3. Divide and Conquer4. The Lives of Soviet Witnesses5. Preaching Atheism6. The Path to Legalization7. The Post-Soviet Harvest8. Freedom and OppositionConclusionNotesReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"This thoughtful and skillfully researched monograph tells the history of the Jehovah's Witness in the Soviet Union and three of its successor states. It recounts the troubled relationship between state and 'sect,' arguing that the survival of Witness communities shows the limits of statepower even in a repressive country like the USSR. The historical sections draw on an impressive, and carefully referenced, body of archival material but Baran also takes her story forward into the first decade of the twenty-first century. It will appeal not only to students of Soviet history butalso to all those following the religious situation in the post-Soviet space today." --Miriam Dobson, author of Khrushchev's Cold Summer: Gulag Returnees, Crime, and the Fate of Reform after Stalin