2. From Globalization to Multiple Glocalizations
In the sociology of religion, the notion of globalization emerged in the 1980s in a series of articles by Roland Robertson; most of them appeared in his Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture.
], p. 8) defined globalization as “the compression of the world.” By “compression,” he meant the accelerated pace of contact among cultures, peoples and civilizations or the sense that the world is “shrinking”. Robertson’s approach offered an alternative to the old modernization theory that equated modernization with universalism, secularism and cross-cultural convergence. The experience of the 1979 Iranian revolution and the subsequent rise of fundamentalism and various religious revivals in Islamic countries, but also in the United States itself, contributed to the de-legitimization of the post-World War II modernization theory, which is incapable of explaining such irregular historical turns. Robertson’s [10
] emphasis on the significance of the “search for fundamentals” as part of globalization offered a theoretical mechanism that could explain “anomalies” in the modernization paradigm. The notion that traditionalist revivals are a consequence of globalization quickly left the confines of sociology of religion and was applied to a variety of diverse subfields and areas of study.
Since the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, scholarship has explored various facets of the relationship between globalization and religion (for examples, see [11
] and for a useful compilation [18
]). As Obadia [19
] argued, theorizing religion and globalization has been subject to two different lines of interpretation: globalization of
religion. In the first problematic, the fundamental research question pertains to the spread of religions and specific genres or forms or blueprints of religious expression across the globe. In the second problematic, the position and place of religion is problematized within
the context of globalization. This problematic concerns the relations and the impact of globalization upon
religion. From this point of view, even religions that are not conventionally considered “global”—such as Eastern Orthodox Christianity—are nevertheless influenced by globalization; these face up to the global condition and reshape their institutional practices and mentalities [6
]. In so doing, religious institutions generally tend to adopt either strategies of cultural defense or strategies of active engagement with globality [20
]. However, although a religion can reject globalizing trends and impulses, it is nevertheless shaped by them and is forced to respond to newfound situations. This problematic incorporates notions of re-sacralization as a response to secularizing agendas and views instances of transnational nationalism cloaked in religious terms as cultural expressions stimulated by globalization (for examples, see [21
Globalization operates through the dialectic of de-territorialization and re-territorialization [23
]. That is, old forms of territorial attachments are decoupled and new forms of such attachments are forged. This dialectic is prominently displayed both in trends toward greater ecumenical orientation as well as in transnational religion. It is the mechanism through which globalization operates concretely to construct new forms of attachment. This dialectic reshapes the world’s religious geography through increased cross-cultural contact. As religions de-territorialize and re-territorialize themselves, the analytical mechanism through which globalization is linked to glocalization can be further articulated. The worldwide spread of various religions involves their simultaneous localization; they are reconstituted in new locales and reconstruct communal attachments in new forms. This might lead both toward forging global forms of religiosity or an ecumenical orientation that decouples particularistic attachments in favor of a global religious community or to the construction of new branches of a religion or religious varieties. The above are not an exclusively contemporary phenomenon. The creation of distinct branches of Christianity—such as Orthodox and Catholic Christianity—bears the mark of this particularization of religious universalism.
As religions are thus reconfigured, new formations emerge in historical time. These new formations are the product of the global spread of religions as well as the product of their multiple localizations caused by the dialectic of de-territorialization/re-territorialization. All of the above lead to glocalization [25
] or hybridization ([27
]. These terms register the ability of religion to mold into the fabric of different communities in ways that connect it intimately with communal and local relations. Of course, the degree to which glocalization offers a resolution of the global-local binary relationship is extensively debatable. For example, Bauman ([29
], p. 3) argued that “one of the prominent effects of glocalization is ... a human condition suspended between [these] two universes, each of the two subject to sharply distinct set of norms and rules.”
In contrast, Robertson ([10
], p. 172; [25
]) introduced the concept of glocalization into social-scientific discourse as a means of abolishing the opposition between the local and the global. “The alleged problem of the relationship between the local and the global”, Robertson and White ([31
], p. 62) wrote, can “be overcome by a deceptively simple conceptual move. Rather than speaking of an inevitable tension between the local and the global it might be possible to think of the two as not being opposites but rather as being different sides of the same coin.”
Robertson’s goal for introducing this neologism was to render the duality of global processes visible. Global processes are not happening against or outside local forces; on the contrary, both global and local are mutually constituent concepts. Its advocacy is meant to highlight the extent to which the global cannot be conceived of in opposition to or in isolation from the local, that both global and local are participants in contemporary social life and that the future is not determined solely by macro-level forces but also by groups, organizations and individuals operating at the micro-level (or what is usually meant by the term “agency”). Robertson ([25
], p. 35) argued that,
The global is not in and of itself counterpoised to the local. Rather, what is often referred to as the local is essentially included within the global. In this respect, globalization, defined in its most general sense as the compression of the world as a whole, involves the linking of localities. But it also involves the “invention” of locality, in the same general sense of the idea of the invention of tradition.
The local-global problematic outlined in the above passage sums up the central issue involved and debated under the rubric of glocalization
. The notion of glocalization captures a series of religious dynamics: the spread of religions across the world’s continents, their localizations, their de-territorialization and re-territorialization, and their subsequent hybridizations. At the heart of the glocal turn rests the acknowledgment that the world’s cultures are not isolated or “authentic” but, rather, the result of continuous processes of hybridization and of incorporation of cultural items borrowed from elsewhere. Beyer [32
] has further extended this argument by suggesting that globalization involves multiple glocalizations: Universal religion is thematized alongside local particularity. These multiple glocalizations should not been seen as mechanically connected to specific historical eras or periods but, rather, as occurring both across historical eras and/or synchronically, subject to the specific cultural and political conditions of a given milieu. In this sense, religion sheds its universal uniformity in favor of blending with locality. Global-local or glocal religion thus represents a “genre of expression, communication and legitimation” of collective and individual identities ([33
], p. 282; [34
], p. xv). Groups and individuals use this religious tradition symbolically as emblematic of membership in an ethnic or national group. Both institutional avenues and private means are employed in this symbolic appropriation, and these are usually interwoven into a web of other associations and relationships. Although communities continue to be formed around the notion of “locality,” this category is divorced from its connection to a specific geographical area. The notion of rootedness inherent in locality can be reconstructed transnationally or symbolically alongside its traditional connection to a specific place [35
]. These processes involve the construction of cultural hybrids that blend religious universalism with several forms of local—most often national or ethnic—particularisms.
A key ingredient of the glocal turn concerns the centrality of cultural traditions and, more broadly, of culture in the analysis of the entanglements between religious traditions and globalization. In turn, these entanglements should be seen from a broader perspective. The rationale of the argument set forth in this article departs from the conventional tendency to focus either on contemporary events or on historically recent transformations—such as the post-18th century modernization of Western Europe or even the various other modernization projects pursued in societies around the globe after the 19th century. It takes to heart Elias’s [36
] long-standing criticism of the “retreat of the sociologists into the present” by offering a global–historical perspective that transcends conventional interpretations of modernization and religion. The glocal turn thus recasts the research agenda in terms of the broader relationship between sacred and profane—instead of the relationship between sacred and secular, which has been the conventional research question pursued in sociology of religion. The goal is to illuminate the relationship between sacred and profane realms without resorting to modernity’s master narrative.
3. Orthodox Christianity and the Necessity of the Longue Durée
The conventional narrative of modernity and of modernization in the social sciences is a narrative that naturalizes the modernization of Western societies, with the result that Orthodox Christianity “becomes a more marginal concern and only enters the story at a later stage” ([37
], p. 22).2
Western social theory has been based on the themes of modernity and secularity, and thus, it has ignored even non-Western branches of Christianity, such as Eastern Orthodox (and Oriental) Christianity [39
]. When it comes to the study of globalization, although scholarship in several fields has often tended to assume its historical novelty, there is small number of scholars of religion who have stressed its historicity. The list includes Warburg’s [40
] impressive study of the Baha’i and Beyer’s [37
] massive general historical survey of the world’s religions. Additionally, Gorski [41
] has argued that, even in central Europe, the rise of nations was in large part related to the redeployment of religious categories of classification; a related argument was also made by Roudometof [42
] in his work on the rise of nations in Ottoman-held Southeastern Europe. Both authors suggest that modern nations are linked to specific confessional denominations—and hence, that religion serves as an important bridgehead between pre-modern and modern social formations. Such perspectives have not been the mainstream social-scientific approaches. Instead, conventional scholarly perspectives tend to accept as natural or self-evident culturally specific notions of religion, secularity and secularism. These notions have been deeply involved in the making of the Western self-image [43
]. Encounters with religious traditions that do not share the same self-image readily reveal the limits of such notions. For example, in Eastern Orthodox countries, religious worship and rituals are not necessarily manifestations of individual belief, and religious practice does not necessarily reflect the depth of personal conviction or belief [45
Unsurprisingly, the critique of Orientalism [46
] has been of critical importance for shaping the understanding of the study of religion. It has broadened scholarly perspectives and necessitated the articulation of theories and interpretations that would henceforth explain not just the phenomenon labeled “religion” in the West but, rather, the development of “world religions” as such (see [37
]). Of course, the challenge to Eurocentric systems of thought is not an entirely new topic. “Europe’s acquisition of the adjective ‘modern’ for itself is a piece of global history,” Chakrabarty ([50
], pp. 20–21) has argued. This is a viewpoint that offers a foundation for setting a new research agenda on historical globalization. In this respect, the major cleavage that shapes the problematic of the relationship between religion and globalization is not only that between a dominant North and a subordinate South but also between the “West” and the “East” or the “rest” (see [51
To understand the multiple entanglements between Eastern Orthodox Christianity and globalization requires taking into account the realization that globalization does not necessarily involve a mystical long-term trend toward universalization, but it also includes processes of fragmentation or hybridization or glocalization. Both in the past and present, a variety of global trends and processes have been decoded and incorporated within the rich tapestry of ethnic groups, nations and regional identities that forms the religious landscape of Eastern Christianity. To successfully interrogate these relationships, it is necessary to break with modernist narratives that naturalize the West and its own cultural specificity; it is necessary to view the historical trajectory of Eastern Orthodox Christianity from the vantage point of the longue durée. Only in such a fashion is it possible to establish sound foundations for analysis and interpretation—without a gaze that restricts itself to examining only its divergences, deviations or cultural deficits vis-à-vis the West.
In order to contemplate the glocalizations of Christianity, especially in connection with the creation of Christianity’s two main branches (Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy), perhaps the most appropriate starting point is the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD). To address a variety of Christological disputes, the council introduced the formula of Christ having two natures united yet completely distinct. However, instead of thwarting Christological challenges, Chalcedon was far more consequential in terms of self-definition: The Chalcedonian churches started using the term “Orthodox” (literally meaning the correct doctrine) to designate themselves ([52
], pp. 18–20; [53
], pp. 34–37). For both Catholics and Orthodox Christians, their Declaration of the Faith states that they believe in a single “Orthodox” (i.e.
, correct) and “Catholic” (that is, universal) Church. This common reality of a single universal Christian Church lasted for several centuries. Initially, this universal Chalcedonian Church included Christians both in the western and the eastern parts of the Mediterranean basin, which at that time was still largely united under the auspices of the Roman Empire. In due course, Chalcedonian Christianity was fragmented into the branches or traditions that are conventionally designated as Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism. It is not accidental that the pope and ecumenical patriarch plan to reinvigorate interfaith dialogue through a proposed 2025 meeting in Nicaea, the city where the Nicaea Creed was originally pronounced in 325 AD [54
]. This example shows that, even in the 21st century, deep-seated convergences are sought through a return to the two branches’ common Chalcedonian heritage.
In the pre-modern era of globalization (from the 4th until the 15th centuries), Orthodox Christianity was molded in the social and cultural fabric of Serbs, Bulgarians, Russians and Georgians. In most of these instances, though, the establishment of an ecclesiastical relationship vis-à-vis
religious hierarchy (e.g., an archbishopric or an autonomous or autocephalous religious organization) implicitly entailed varied degrees of recognition of the authority of the Eastern Roman emperor. For many centuries, Orthodoxy maintained this close association with the Eastern Roman (e.g., Byzantine) Empire, and its own orientation vis-à-vis
the papacy was in many respects shaped by the imperial point of view.3
But unlike the Roman Catholic Church, which is “one, not only because all its members profess the same faith and join in a common worship, but also because they are united by the guidance of the infallible successor of St. Peter, the Roman Pontiff,” ([56
], p. 3), the Orthodox Church did not preserve the notion of administrative unity as central to its own self-image.
In due course, theological arguments were constructed and forcefully advocated by both the Catholic and Orthodox hierarchies as a result of consolidating specific agendas and blueprints that involved the ecclesiastical institutions’ own understanding of their purpose and role within the Christian ecumene
. Since the 9th century, papal claims to primacy were consistently refuted by the Orthodox ecclesiastical establishment. Although the Orthodox have been willing to recognize the pope as primus inter pares
(first among equals), Orthodox theology rejects papal claims to primacy (primatus potestatis
) and specifically the Petrine doctrine of papal primacy, i.e.
, the notion that the papacy inherits its superior status from St. Peter. For the Orthodox, papal claims to primacy violate the conciliarity of the Christian tradition.4
Undoubtedly, the religious alienation between Catholic and Orthodox Christians was greatly exacerbated by the Crusades. Western crusaders did not hesitate to employ the rhetoric of heresy to justify their military exploits, whereas the Orthodox side was stunned by the principle of “holy war” evoked by the crusaders. The turning point between the two sides was the 1204 conquest of Constantinople by the crusaders of the 4th Crusade and the collapse of the Eastern Roman Empire (e.g., Byzantium). It is not accidental that in 2001 Pope John Paul II issued an apology for the events of the 4th Crusade, in which he lamented the fact that “the assailants who set out to secure free access for Christians to the Holy Land, turned against their brothers in the faith. That they were Latin Christians fills Catholics with deep regret” ([59
], p. xiii). Only after the disappearance of imperial rule did Orthodox institutions begin to operate autonomously and without relying upon political leadership ([60
], p. 290). Between the two falls of Constantinople (1204–1453) both doctrinal and liturgical evolution took place, heavily contributing to the crystallization of Orthodox Christianity into the format that is commonly known and practiced in the world today.
This brief overview suggests that Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism were profoundly shaped by their historical encounters and cross-regional interactions with each other in the course of the seven centuries between Charlemagne’s crowning as Roman Emperor (800 AD) and Constantinople’s 1453 second fall to the Ottomans. It was in that era—an era ignored by the conventional narrative of Western modernization—that the defining features of Orthodoxy Christianity emerged and when both Catholicism and Orthodoxy emerged as distinct and conflicting traditions. The subsequent sense of alienation or existential gap that divided the two parts of the previously unified Chalcedonian Christianity has had long-lasting consequences.5
After the Enlightenment era, western European modernization raised the issue of confronting the challenges of modernity not only within its own cultural milieu but also within the milieu of Orthodox Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Rationalism—a major facet of the Enlightenment—has been famously used to justify the modernist notions of objective knowledge. Through its application of Reason into the domains of science and social life, it also provided a central foundation for modernity per se
. Orthodox theological discourse has consistently—from the 18th century until the 21st century—voiced a critique of Western modernity. This critique is founded upon the limits of rationality as a basis for comprehending the world and, most importantly, as a means for providing the world with meaning ([53
], pp. 48–64). Long before Max Weber referred to the “iron cage” of modernity to point out the limitations of modern rationality to offer meaningful ends to individuals, Orthodox theological discourse has employed a very similar leitmotif
to criticize western Reason [61
]. Orthodox theology has articulated a vision of apophatic theology—or more generally “apophaticism”—as a discursive means for deciding matters of faith.6
Without going into the details of theological discourse, it should suffice to say that apophaticism has been meant as a strategy—used in the era of the Church’s ecumenical councils—which aimed at stating what God is not
, as opposed to what God is
. Given that God is incomprehensible for the human being, then human words cannot describe what God is. Hence, authoritative statements about the nature of the faith state more accurately what God is not. This strategy has been evolved into the concept of “negative theology”. Alongside deification, apophaticism provides a theological cornerstone of Orthodox theology.7
4. Four Glocalizations
Using the historical record of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, I have developed a model of four distinct glocalizations [8
]. Although it is not possible to offer the full narrative that offers extensive documentation of their presence throughout the history of Christianity (for such a narrative, see [7
]), these glocalizations offer concrete examples that involve such a fusion between religious universalism and local particularism. These glocalizations are vernacularization, indigenization, nationalization
. Each presents a specific form of blending universal religion along particular human configurations (e.g., empire, ethnicity, nation-state and transnational migration). These forms are not distinct simply because of their historical specificity; rather, they are distinct because each of them offers a discrete analytical ordering or combination of the global and the local. To put it differently, each form offers a distinct blueprint for negotiating and ordering the global–local binary relationship into culturally stable and concrete formats.
Vernacularization blends religious universalism with specific vernacular languages. This glocalization is certainly far more common in pre-modern or pre-literate cultures, in which access to sacred texts was limited and religious efficacy could be tied to a specific language. Perhaps the most prominent example of such vernacularization comes from Islam, whereby Arabic serves as the religion’s sacred language—even in cultural contexts outside the Arab world. Chalcedonian Christianity’s vernacularization involved the rise of high-culture languages with their own script ([66
], p. 160). Even before the rise of Christianity, Greek and Latin were high-culture languages in the eastern and western parts of the Mediterranean. After the spread of Christianity, their status as high-culture script languages further amplified cultural differences that became encoded in religious categories. The use of the two main vernacular high culture languages of the era—Greek and Latin—is responsible for the construction of the religious traditions that have become embedded in the terms “Greek East” and “Latin West” [67
]. Out of these terms, in due course of time, emerged the branches or traditions conventionally designated as Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism, respectively. Their crystallization was instrumental for the notions of East and West within Europe—and the legacy of this historical division remains important to this very day.
Vernacularization exacerbated divergences between the Greek East and the Latin West. These include: the difference in the number and status of ecclesiastical hierarchs (patriarchs and the pope), the role of Latin and Greek in serving as languages of communication, the contrast between the two regions’ cultural milieu and the role of imperial authority in determining the range and potency of ecclesiastical authorities—or the relationship between sacerdotium and imperium. When in the 4th century Christianity became the Roman Empire’s official religion, complementarity (or symphonia) provided the basic principle of governing the relationship between church and state. The ecclesiastical establishment assisted the emperor in the execution of his duties. The high clergy provided spiritual leadership and exercised moral control upon state authority, whereas the emperor was expected to play a role in protecting, expanding and serving Christianity. This relationship did not imply confusion between the different realms. The emperors were the guardians of the faith, and consequently, they were empowered to intervene in religious affairs.
In the post-1453 era and under the period of Ottoman rule, vernacularization was revived under the auspices of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (for an overview, see [9
], pp. 68–73). It took several centuries for this project to become fully institutionalized, but by the 18th century it was so successful that the label of the “Greek” or “Roman” was applied to nearly all Orthodox Christians without regard to ethnic distinctions. The major rival institution during the period of the Ottoman rule was the Patriarchate of Pec, which served as the focal point for Serbian Orthodoxy. It was restored in 1557, only to be abolished in 1766 ([68
], pp. 221–28). The Serbs’ situation was extensively impacted by the 1699 great migration. During the Habsburg–Ottoman wars, the Serb Orthodox leaders supported the Habsburgs. When the Ottoman forces made a comeback, the Serb patriarch, alongside thousands of Serbs, fled to Habsburg territory. The archbishopric of Karlowitz was subsequently established to minister this refugee population.
Indigenization blends religious universalism with local particularism by adopting religious ritual, expression and hierarchies into the specifics of a particular ethnicity. Most often, the sense of distinction thus constructed blends religious and ethnic difference. Although pre-modern kingdoms and principalities made regular use of this process in order to bolster their rulers’ legitimacy, the ties constructed often endured far beyond the specific regimes or states. However, it would be a mistake to view indigenization as simply the result of local rulers who use religion instrumentally; in some instances, such indigenization has persisted for centuries in the absence of political authority. Furthermore, in the contemporary sociology of religion, prominent examples of indigenization come from Brazil and the Caribbean, places in which African traditional forms of religiosity have blended with Christianity. In such forms of religiosity, group membership is far more closed than in vernacularization; if vernacularization has been associated with empires, indigenization has been associated with ethnic and cultural reproduction and survival.
It is important to note that the Eastern Roman Empire, at least until 1204, was not an ethnically defined state. Its Hellenistic cultural heritage and Orthodox faith were features universally accessible to all those who entered into its cultural universe [69
]. It is in this sense that the difference between vernacularization and indigenization emerges as crucial and consequential. Vernacularization made it possible to incorporate intruders and barbarian tribes—just as it made it possible to carry out “civilizing missions” in terms of conversions to Christianity. Indigenization as a process has a strong elective affinity with Orthodox Christianity. In contrast to Roman Catholicism, there are specific features of Orthodoxy (such as decentralized administration) that made it far more susceptible to indigenization, that is, the absorption of the faith into local ethnic identities. Medieval Georgia, Bulgaria, Russia and Serbia offer examples of such indigenization [68
]. The construction of the Cyrillic alphabet and the use of Old Slavonic for liturgy illustrate this flexibility of Orthodoxy. However, the indigenization of Orthodoxy was not predicated solely on the creation of a distinct liturgical language. It was further strengthened by the initial processes of granting autonomy or autocephaly to various archbishoprics related to or offered in direct negotiation with Bulgarian, Serb or Russian rulers. The foundation of these seats offered local rulers a sacred element to their authority and strengthened acceptance and legitimacy of their rule. Sacred authority and public authority were used concurrently as elements that would therefore foster a sense of identity and cohesion among the population. In this sense, Orthodoxy contributed heavily to the construction and reproduction of ethnicity among Russians, Ukrainians and the southern Slavs.
The principal difference between nationalization and the previous forms discussed is that the nation serves as the foundation for the religious institutions’ claim to legitimacy. Nationalization operates through the use of religion as a potential source for nation formation or the intertwining of religious and national markers [72
]. The Church of England is perhaps emblematic of such a relationship, but it is not an isolated example (see [41
]). Although societies can become more secular, the semiotic significance of religion and its importance for public expression remains central to national life. Historically sensitive scholarship has acknowledged that, even within Western Europe, confessionalization involved the establishment of a formal relationship between specific confessions and territorial rulers ([74
], p. 639). As a result, people might belong to a national church without necessarily being religious adherents—religion’s significance might be semiotic. Often, that is the source of considerable difficulty for social researchers, who cannot use indicators of religious participation as valid measurements for the importance of religion.
Typically, nationalization operates through the construction and reproduction of a close relationship between confessional membership and modern national identities. The analytical boundary that separates nationalization from indigenization rests in part on the civic nature of the nation: A nation requires active citizens and not mere subjects; it rests on popular legitimacy as foundation for rule [77
]. Although this is less problematic for nations with a prominent civic dimension, the situation is far more complex for nations that coalesce around culturally defined or ethnic membership. In such cases, religion is used as a marker signifying national membership. To the extent that nations are viewed as identical to ethnic groups, the distinction between indigenization and nationalization is erased. For followers of modernist interpretations of nationalism, the difference between vernacularization and nationalization is self-evident. However, even ethno-symbolist interpretations [78
] accept the existence of a conceptual distinction between ethnie
(ethnic communities) and modern nations. Only primordialists could therefore argue against the salience of the conceptual distinction between indigenization and nationalization.
Until the 18th century, the majority of Orthodox Christians lived in the Ottoman and Russian Empires. They were under the pastoral care of two institutions: the Russian Orthodox Church, which had its primate elevated in 1589 to the status of a patriarch, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.8
However, in the modern era of nations and nationalism, these two institutions evolved very differently. In the Russian case, the patriarchate was abolished in 1721 and was revived just in 1917, only to survive successive rounds of Soviet persecution at great cost. In the Ottoman case, the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate was fragmented as a result of the rise of local nationalisms. During the 19th century, when Greece, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria were territorially disaggregated from the Ottoman Empire and became either independent (e.g., Kingdom of Greece, 1833) or autonomous states (e.g., pre-1878 Serbia, pre-1908 Bulgaria), they developed their own secular political leadership, which in turn led to a modern synthesis between church and nation.9
This synthesis was predicated upon nationalism’s success as the principal legitimizing force in the modern world. It connected national churches in Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece with their respective nation-states and offered a model for cross-societal emulation.10
Through the modern synthesis, a church–nation link was constructed, linking the Orthodox confession with each nation. Administrative independence in the form of national autocephaly became a means of showcasing national independence.
In order to construct such a link it was imperative for religious institutions to relate
to the newly crafted national identities and to adapt themselves to the emerging realities of the era of the nation-state. This altered the structural foundations and cultural significance of Orthodox Christianity. Religion was re-sacralized through its connection to the nation; in the Orthodox nation-states, Orthodox institutions became emblematic not only of universal Christianity but also of national particularism. To belong to the nation one also had to belong to the national church. In 19th century Ottoman-held Macedonia, Serbs, Greeks and Bulgarians used paramilitary groups to coerce the local population to declare as their confession the respective Serb, Bulgarian or Greek versions of Orthodoxy.11
That might be the most extreme application of this mentality. Its most spectacular application in the realm of official state policy, though, concerned the 1923 Lausanne Treaty, whereby the Orthodox Christian and Muslim populations of Greece and Turkey were compulsorily sent to the two countries where they supposedly belonged.
Through its nationalization Orthodox Christianity has further molded itself into the fabric of the modern Eastern and Southeastern European nations, and nearly all of its adherents today would add an ethnic or a national modifier (“Greek”, “Bulgarian”, “Russian”, and so on) to their identification as Orthodox Christians. Although its origins can be traced back in the 19th century, this process has continued in the course of the 20th century with new states—sometimes communist ones—fostering ecclesiastical independence as a means of bolstering national aspirations and hence gaining legitimacy among the population. In Estonia, Moldova and Ukraine, nationalist movements also used ecclesiastical autocephaly for the same purposes, but their objectives were frustrated due to the incorporation of these countries into the USSR. As a result, these issues resurfaced after the collapse of communism (see [84
The global construction of nation-states and the nationalization of their citizens have necessarily created a residual category of “transnationals” (i.e.
, all those currently residing within a host state but who are not viewed as belonging to the host nation). In this sense, transnationalization represents the other facet of global nationalization. In the context of migration, transnational people reconstitute their ties to both host and home countries, and they engage in a creative process of blending elements from both points of reference. It is in this sense that transnationalization is seen as a form of glocalization. International migration has offered the scholarly context in which it became possible to theorize the relationship between people and religion in a transnational context [87
]. Although initially articulated in the context of international migration, the notion of transnationalism has been extended beyond, to the sheer movement of peoples [35
]. For example, it is possible to speak of institutional transnationalism—such as, for example, the case of the post-1990 Russian Orthodox Church, which claims ecclesiastical jurisdiction in territories outside the borders of the Russian Federation (Estonia, Moldova and Ukraine) [90
]. Such instances of trans-border claims are often connected to long-distance or transnational nationalism.
In the case of Eastern Orthodox migration, there are two important destinations of migration. First, since the 19th century, hundreds of thousands of Orthodox Christians have migrated to new overseas destinations (Australia, Canada and, most importantly, the United States). Second, after the end of World War II and also after the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, another far more silent and less well-documented migration wave directed hundreds of thousands of Orthodox immigrants into Western Europe (for overviews, see [93
]). In both cases, the result was the creation of parishes and communities connecting the immigrants back to their original homeland and their mother churches. As a result, the church–nation link between Orthodoxy and national identity was not confined to the new Orthodox nation-states of Southeastern and Eastern Europe but was exported via the ecclesiastical institutions’ own transnationalization.12
The fragmentation into a multitude of ethnic groups and the institution of separate ecclesiastical units has contributed to the difficulties of studying these diverse groups—as many of them are too small to attract the attention of social scientists, and the existence of complicated and often overlapping ecclesiastical arrangements does not make things easier. Moreover, the 1917 Bolshevik revolution and the post-1945 imposition of communist rule throughout Eastern Europe further caused many of these communities to break their traditional ties with their motherland churches. This was famously done in the case of Russian Orthodox communities outside the USSR’s borders. However, in the post-World War II period, the Ukrainian and the Estonian Churches also maintained their own separate refugee ecclesiastical organizations; whereas after the imposition of communist rule in many Eastern European countries, the U.S.-based communities sought to break off their ties with their mother churches—which were under the effective control of these countries’ communist regimes.13
Some of them sought the support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in order to maintain their canonical status.
This chaotic situation persisted until the collapse of communism. In its aftermath, many expatriate churches were reunified with their mother churches. Other churches though, having gained a sense of identity, remained autocephalous—such as, for the example, the Orthodox Church in America, which, until 1970 was a metropolia
of the Russian Orthodox Church. There are numerous examples of “long-distance nationalism” [99
] that illustrate the potency of national identity among the Orthodox immigrants. These manifest the extent to which the predominant pattern of Orthodox transnationalism has been that of various Orthodox national groups that employ religion as a means of maintaining and reproducing their ethnic or national identities in a new cultural milieu. No Orthodox diaspora per se
exists; Orthodox theology supports the preservation of religious ties through the institution of the local (i.e.
, national) church and not through a single administrative jurisdiction that could unite peoples of diverse origins under a single ecclesiastical hierarchy [100
This article argues in favor of a glocal turn in studying the relationship between religion and globalization. It extends the logic of multiple glocalizations into the historical record and proposes four forms of religious glocalization. It offers a concrete application of Herrington’s thesis about the ways in which religion has been, in many respects, a driving force and key player in globalization [101
The proposed line of analysis offers two distinct advantages. First, it enables a view of globalization that does not reduce it to a recent historical process but, rather, frames it as a long-term process that pre-dates the emergence of Western modernity. As I argued, it is critically important to incorporate the perspective of the longue durée
for the study of Orthodox Christianity; as this is the only means through which it becomes possible to avoid the historical biases of interpretive schemes constructed on the basis of the Western historical experience. The proposed framework does so through the incorporation of the formative pre-modern era of globalization. Second, the interpretation highlights the fractal quality of glocalization: Instead of bringing about uniformity, globalization involves the construction of glocal or global-local hybrids that blend religious universalism with local (ethnic, vernacular, or national) particularism. Hence, the relationship between sacred and profane is continuously reconfigured through the ongoing construction and reconstruction of glocal forms of religiosity. This article identifies four forms of religious glocalization—vernacularization, indigenization, nationalization and transnationalization—each of which represents different combinations of the local and the global. The four forms of glocalization presented here should not
be seen as sequential; that is, they are not
different stages in historical development. Instead they tend to be synchronic and sometimes can occur in reverse sequence. For example, in the Orthodox case, indigenization operated early in the history of Slavs but was reversed or stalled at later periods, while vernacularization provided the Orthodox Church’s central mode of operation both during the Roman and the Ottoman empires (see Roudometof [9
Substantively, both Roman Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity are seen as religious traditions that emerged in the context of Christianity’s long-term vernacularization. In this sense, these traditions are the products of historically formed combinations of universalism and particularism. Additionally, Orthodox Christianity has displayed a historical tendency toward indigenization, whereby the contours of universal Christianity were fused with local, regional or ethnic identities. The nationalization of Orthodoxy, it is further argued, led to its redeployment as a facet of local national identities. This historical process was initiated in 19th century Southeastern Europe and was belatedly applied to the post-1989 post-Soviet constellation. Several contemporary ecclesiastical disputes (in Estonia, Ukraine or Moldova) reflect this belated application of a modern synthesis between Orthodoxy and nationality. Far from reflecting a cultural backwardness or an anti-modern reaction, the nationalization of Orthodoxy reflects the continuing ability of a religious tradition to continuously relate to new emerging cultural forms—such as the nation-state.
This nationalization is accompanied by transnationalization; in fact, the two are intimately related. Through the construction of nation-states and international migration, new categories of transnational peoples are created. In the case of Orthodoxy, the nationalization has operated not only in the countries of Southeastern and Eastern Europe, but also in the numerous transnational communities of Orthodox immigrants in their transatlantic destinations (Australia, Canada and the United States). In most of these cases, the immigrants’ transnationalism does not privilege religious universalism, but rather, it uses religion as a symbolic means to maintain and reconstruct national relations to the original country of origin.
As a result of these processes, Orthodox Christianity was simultaneously nationalized and trans-nationalized. The nationalization and trans-nationalization of Orthodox Christianity reflects the growing ability of the faith itself to continuously relate to historically novel political and cultural forms—ranging from those of the modern nation-state to the various communal organizations set up by immigrants in their host countries. It is important to acknowledge that this process is far from complete; the growing pains of achieving administrative stability and cohesion, both among nation-states and in the various transnational Orthodox communities, produce a great deal of strain among ecclesiastical institutions.14
Finally, while in this article Christianity (and more specifically the Orthodox case) has served as the major historical example, it is necessary to stress that the proposed interpretative scheme is meant to capture the interactions between Axial religions and globalization in general. As such, the forms of glocalization are not meant to apply solely to Christianity (either Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy) but also to other religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism). It is further necessary to add that not all
four forms might be present in all
these religions—for the presence or absence of specific forms of glocalization is subject to theological, organizational, cultural and political developments that take place within specific historical milieus.