History of the Ukrainian Association of Researchers of Religion (UARR): Emergence and Institutionalization
The article is devoted to the history of UARR, its first steps – from the inception of the idea of creating a professional association of religious researchers to a constitutive conference and its decisions. On the basis of archival documents that we managed to collect, and surveys of participants of those events, the process of emergence and institutionalization of the society of religious scholars of Ukraine was restored. It was found that thanks to the enthusiasm of representatives of academic and university science, the solidarity of those who supported the tradition of studying religion, the awareness of the need to develop impartial scientific observation of the religious revival, in order to overcome post-communist stereotypes in relation to religion, in 1993 an association of researchers of religion appeared in Ukraine. The author dwells on the organizational aspects of the creation of UARR, highlights the role of certain scientific, educational, religious and cultural institutions which were the initiators of this process. UARR wouldn’t have appeared so quickly and efficiently without the broad support from interested people and organizations as well as friendly relations and assistance.
The organizational basis of UARR comprised the principles of democracy in management, wide representation, creativity, personal and institutional interest both in the results and in the process of research of religiosity and history of religion in Ukraine.
Special role in the creation of UARR belongs to the team of the Religious Studies Department of the Philosophy Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine headed by Professor A. Kolodnyi who was supported by his colleagues P. Yarotskyi, B. Lobovyk, P. Kosukha and M. Babiy. M.Babiy prepared a draft Charter and all the constitutive documents for the state registration of the UARR as a public organization. Without the participation of the Department of Religious Studies of Taras Shevchenko National University (V. Suyarko, Y. Kalinin), Department of Cultural Studies of Kyiv Pedagogical Institute and its head M. Zakovich, it is difficult to imagine that the initiative to unite scholars on religion would have so successfully spread throughout Ukraine. At the time of registration of UARR at the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine (1993), regional divisions were created in 13 cities. The idea of creating an association was ardently supported in Lviv, Chernivtsi, Ternopil, Odessa, Sumy, Uzgorod, Zhytomyr, Rivne, Lutsk, which showed the all-Ukrainian character of the new organization.
The article presents evidences of scientific, educational, publishing activity of Ukrainian scholars in the early 1990s, when the foundations were laid for subsequent successful years of activity of Ukrainian scientists. The first steps witnessed the scale and ambitiousness of plans for the development of religious studies in Ukraine. Its conductors took the matter seriously, systematically and scientifically and defined the main directions of UARR: organizational, scientific publications and educational activities. UARR still moves in these directions annually attracting new members to religious research and dissemination of scientific knowledge about religion and religious organizations.
The purpose of the article is to familiarize the wider community of study of religion with the first years of the emergence and institutionalization of religious studies in independent Ukraine.
Scientific novelty is that for the first time archival documents on the beginnings of creation and development of activities of UARR are introduced which are supported by testimonies of those people who participated in those events.
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