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Sonja Luehrmann

Associate Professor of Anthropology, Simon Fraser University

Russia/Soviet Union, Politics of religion in Russia, Shifting relationship between Russia and the West, Politics of childbirth and reproduction, Abortion regulation, Reproductive policies


Praying with the Senses: An Online Exhibition

Reverberations - Social Science Research Council, June 17, 2013Online


Online forum with images, reflections, and recordings from social scientists who study Orthodox Christian prayer.

Ilaria Parogni: The Strategic Savvy of Russia’s Growing Anti-Abortion Movement

The Nation, August 30, 2016Online


A news article that quotes my research on Russian anti-abortion activism.

Secularism Soviet Style: Teaching Atheism and Religion in a Volga Republic
by Sonja Luehrmann
Indiana University Press
November 24, 2011

The interplay of Islam, Christianity, Paganism, and atheism in rural Russia.

Praying with the Senses: Contemporary Orthodox Christian Spirituality in Practice
by Sonja Luehrmann, ed.
Indiana University Press
January 6, 2018

Collaborative study of prayer practices throughout the Orthodox Christian world.


Dr. Sonja Luehrmann received her Ph.D. from the Program in Anthropology and History at the University of Michigan in 2009. Drawing on ethnographic and archival methods, her research addresses questions of human transformability: how people live through shifting socioeconomic and political conditions, and how religious and secular institutions appeal to the human capacity to change habits and convictions, while attempting to steer it in particular directions.

Geographically, she is particularly interested in multi-ethnic and multi-religious areas such as Russia’s Volga region. She has published two books on Soviet atheism and its effects on post-Soviet religion and historical memory: Secularism Soviet Style: Teaching Atheism and Religion in a Volga Republic (Indiana, 2011) and Religion in Secular Archives: Soviet Atheism and Historical Knowledge (Oxford, 2015).

Luehrmann is currently working on a book about anti-abortion activism in the post-Soviet Russian Orthodox Church, where activists attempt to transform popular attitudes toward past and present reproductive decisions. Together with colleagues based in the United States, Russia, Germany, and Hungary, she recently completed a collaborative project investigating the relationship between sense perception and ethical values in Orthodox Christian prayer.


  • Atheism and non-religion
  • Church-state relations
  • Russian Orthodox Church
  • Russia/Soviet Union
  • Politics of religion in Russia
  • Shifting relationship between Russia and the West
  • Politics of childbirth and reproduction
  • Abortion regulation

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