The Wandering Orthodox Nuns: Religion and Gender in the Nineteenth-Century Central Balkans

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Slavic Review

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This article discusses a specific type of religious travel—not pious pilgrimage to the Holy Lands—but more mundane trips performed by Eastern Orthodox sisters to beg for donations within and between three multiconfessional empires. More specifically, it focuses on how nuns’ spatial movements put them on the bigger imperial and transnational maps of church, state, and society and contributed to negotiating space for gender. By combining mobility and gender as categories of analysis, I position the sisters’ acts within three broad themes: travel, women's education, and social networks. I suggest that nuns’ involvement in local communities and the establishment of schools for girls provides evidence for worldly as well as pious concerns. By encompassing rich social interactions, the sisters’ story presents gender imbalances in more palpable form and embodies larger experiences of nineteenth-century women who strove to achieve self-development and to assert social visibility.


Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies



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