Welcome to Simon Fraser University
You have reached this page because we have detected you have a browser that is not supported by our web site and its stylesheets. We are happy to bring you here a text version of the SFU site. It offers you all the site's links and info, but without the graphics.
You may be able to update your browser and take advantage of the full graphical website. This could be done FREE at one of the following links, depending on your computer and operating system.
Or you may simply continue with the text version.

FireFox (Recommended) http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/
Opera http://www.opera.com/

*Macintosh OSX:*
FireFox (Recommended) http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/
Opera http://www.opera.com/

*Macintosh OS 8.5-9.22:*
The only currently supported browser that we know of is iCAB. This is a free browser to download and try, but there is a cost to purchase it.
Close x
Searching... Please wait...

Sonja Luehrmann


Assistant Professor of Anthropology

PhD & MA (Anthropology and History) University of Michigan
MA (Anthropology) Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany

Email: luehrmann@sfu.ca
Phone: 778-782-4761
Office: AQ 5091

Research Interests

Russia/Soviet Union; atheism and secularism; Orthodox Christianity; interreligious relations; pedagogy and technologies of ideological transmission; gender and the politics of reproduction; visual and archival methods; history of anthropology

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 engages questions of human transformability: how people live their lives through shifting socioeconomic and political conditions, and how various religious and secular institutions appeal to the human capacity to change habits and convictions, while attempting to steer it in particular directions. Her book Secularism Soviet Style: Teaching Atheism and Religion in a Volga Republic deals with Soviet atheist propaganda and post-Soviet religious revival in the multi-religious Volga region of Russia.  Her forthcoming book Religion in Secular Archives: Soviet Atheism and Historical Knowledge deals with the methodological and epistemological problem of studying religious practice through the militantly secularist lens of Soviet-era archival documents.

Dr. Luehrmann’s current ethnographic research focuses on 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 is also part of a collaborative project investigating the relationship between sensory perception and ethical values in Orthodox Christian prayer.



  Alutiiq Villages under Russian and U.S. Rule (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2008)     Secularism Soviet Style: Teaching Atheism and Religion in a Volga Republic (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, fall 2011)

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

2013 The Magic of Others: Mari Witchcraft Reputations and Interethnic Relations in the Volga Region. Special issue on Witchcraft and Magic in Russia, edited by Valerie Kivelson. Russian History 40(3-4): 469-487.

2012 A Multireligious Region in an Atheist State: Unionwide Policies Meet Communal Distinctions in the Postwar Mari Republic. In State Secularism and Lived Religion in Soviet Russia and Ukraine, edited by Catherine Wanner. New York: Oxford University Press, 272-301.

2011  The Modernity of Manual Reproduction: Soviet Propaganda and the Creative Life of Ideology. Cultural Anthropology 26(3), 363-388.

2011  On the importance of having a method, or What does archival work on Soviet atheism have to do with ethnography of post-Soviet religion? In Anthrohistory: Unsettling Knowledge, Questioning Discipline, edited by Edward Murphy, David William Cohen, Chandra Bhimull, Fernando Coronil, Monica Patterson, and Julie Skurski. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 273-285.

2010  A Dual Struggle of Images on Russia’s Middle Volga: Icon Veneration in the Face of Protestant and Pagan Critique. In Eastern Christians in Anthropological Perspective, edited by Chris Hann and Hermann Goltz. Berkeley: University of California Press, 56-78.

2005  Recycling Cultural Construction: Desecularisation in Postsoviet Mari El. Religion, State & Society 33(1): 35-56.

2005  Russian Colonialism and the Asiatic Mode of Production: (Post)Soviet Ethnography Goes to Alaska. Slavic Review 64(4): 851-871.

2004  Mediated Marriage: Internet Matchmaking in Provincial Russia. Europe-Asia Studies 56(6): 857-875.

Grants and Fellowships

Principal Investigator, "Sensory Spirituality: Prayer as Transformative Practice in Eastern Christianity," funded through the U.S. Social Science Research Council's initiative "New Directions in the Study of Prayer," 2012-14

IREX International Advanced Research Opportunities fellowship for “Soviet Memory and Gendered Moral Agency in Russian Orthodox Anti-Abortion Activism,” 2012.

Izaak Walton Killam Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of British Columbia, 2009-11.

[top of page]

[ back to Faculty listing ]