Attitudes toward alternative spirituality in Russia are shaped by legislative limitations on religious freedom, the state’s traditionalism, and Russian Orthodox anticultism. Nevertheless, public personalities associated with new religious movements persist and flourish. Oleg Torsunov, popularizer of Vedic Psychology and holistic medicine, is a striking example. Despite ongoing controversies about his religious affiliation, medical claims, and gender ideology, Torsunov continues to attract followers. This article examines why public figures such as Torsunov seem unsinkable in hostile cultural environments. Mapping the heated discursive landscape surrounding Torsunov, I argue that the secret to this resilience is a “legitimation lattice”—the strategy of grounding one’s authority in several sources of legitimacy. Torsunov’s lattice is composed of different interlocked strips: science, Indian spirituality, personal charisma, and common stereotypes. This structure increases the resilience of controversial public figures in two ways: by making their legitimation strategies flexible and by allowing them to emphasize mainstream values as needed.
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Research Article| February 01 2021
Legitimating New Religiosity in Contemporary Russia: “Vedic Wisdom” Under Fire
Nova Religio (2021) 24 (3): 6–35.
Irina Sadovina; Legitimating New Religiosity in Contemporary Russia: “Vedic Wisdom” Under Fire. Nova Religio 1 February 2021; 24 (3): 6–35. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/nr.2021.24.3.6
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