Title of the article:



Lyudmila A. Klyukina

Information about the author/authors

Lyudmila A. Klyukina — DSc in Philosophy, Professor, Petrozavodsk State University, Lenina Ave. 33, 185910 Petrozavodsk, Russia.
ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4843-9357
E-mail: klyukina-la77@yandex.ru


Theory and history of culture




Vol. 65


pp. 44–61


September 03, 2021

Approved after reviewing

October 19, 2021

Date of publication

September 28, 2022



Index UDK


Index BBK



This paper explores conversion into Christianity of Old Believers, who were working at the Aleksandrovsky factory in the city of Petrozavodsk in the 19th century, and were heavily influenced by members of the religious commune of the Vygovskaya monastery. The Aleksandrovsky cannon factory was an important strategic object for the Russian Empire. This is why the Old Believers working there were not repressed, but subjected to ideological re-education. One of the measures of the latter was the construction of the Church of Alexander Nevsky in 1826–1832 in Petrozavodsk. The study of the culture of local Old Believers and their relations with the Russian authority and Orthodox Church based on the academic works of N. A. Basova, V. V. Efimova, N. Y. Kuznetsova, M. V. Pulkin, I. N. Ruzhinskaya and T. V. Sorokina. The description of religious, ideological and aesthetic aspects of the Church’s architecture drew on an article by K. E. Tyukova and archive documents published in featured compilations by the National Archive of the Republic of Karelia, as well other archive materials academically introduced by the author of the article. Their interpreting was in keeping with the context of semiotic approach designed by Y. M. Lotman and B. A. Uspensky. The researchers homologated the notions of culture and text; they suggested viewing Russian culture of the Empire period as an area of interaction between two traditions: Russian Orthdox culture and imperial culture founded by Peter I. The scholars established that interaction between these two was happening in the process of interpretation of every cultural opposition of “ours” and “theirs”, where “ours” was defined through contraposing it against “theirs”. The present paper is the first to study the construction of the Church of Alexander Nevsky in Petrozavodsk as a textual activity of the authority aimed at converting the Old Believers working at the Aleksandrovsky factory into Christianity, and the image of the church itself as a cultural text that reflected the concepts, values and narratives of the first trimester of the 19th century. The author came to a number of conclusions. The semiotic analysis or rites performed by Orthodox priests in the process of the construction of the church, and actions taken by the administration of the cannon factory, showed that a new semiotic system had been formed amongst the Old Believers working at the factory. The focus of that system of symbols was the idea of the empire. A number of religious and state symbols had been incorporated into the design of the temple and the temple activities, which transferred the image of the holy Alexander Nevsky onto the image of Emperor of Alexander the First. The transformation of the culture of Old Believer factory workers was being performed by the authorities on the basis of the cultural code of the times of Peter the Great, where “ours” was the idea of the empire, and the contraposed “theirs” was Old Belief. Discrepancy between the two radical members of the opposition would be alleviated by homologating the Old Believers idea of revering the spiritual guide with the idea of deification of the Emperor.


Church of Alexander Nevsky in Petrozavodsk, spiritual guidance, imperial culture, Orthodoxy, semiotic approach, Old Believers.


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