Crossroads Asia congratulates Elena Smolarz!

Elena Smolarz successfully defended her PhD-thesis on “Institution-building in Islam under Russian-imperial influence: the case of the Orenburg Muslim Spiritual Assembly in the Russian Empire, 1788-1860” at the University of Bonn this month.

In order to successfully sustain a stable, multicultural society, the establishment of new institutional structures might be needed. The Orenburg Muslim Spiritual Assembly was established in 1788 as the central institution for Muslims in the Russian Empire. In her dissertation, Mrs. Smolarz analyses the process of formation and establishment of this institution in a state shaped by Christianity. Besidesnormative documents of the Russian Empire, she examined archival documents of the Orenburg Assembly (minutes, internal correspondence, complaints of the Muslim community), in order to investigate the tasks, institutional actors, configurations and the institutional practice of the assembly. She concludes that, with the establishment of the assembly, a space of interaction between Muslim and Imperial actors in administration, law-making and religious practice was created. The ulama and Muslims could use this newly created space of interaction for participatory purposes which often ceased in conflicts of power within the Muslim community, e.g. conflicts over the limited number of imams. Hence the assembly was not able to fully integrate the Muslim community into the administrative and legislative space of the Russian Empire, but it provided a platform for convergence. Please follow <media 983>the link</media> to read the abstract of the dissertation in German.

Contact: Elena Smolarz,