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Turning Marx on his head

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Christian and Muslim religious movements have made significant inroads into post-Soviet Kyrgyzstani society, and have been seen as a threat by the secular establishment. In this article we discuss the defence mechanisms that are locally employed to ward off the danger that these `new' religious movements represent. Our focus on secular responses not only fills a gap in the available research (which has focused on religious renewal but largely ignored the `secular' majority), but also provides new perspectives on how to view the postsocialist religious landscape. By scrutinizing secular responses we show that what is at stake is not so much atheist ideology but secular understandings of religion that were (inadvertently) promoted by Soviet rule. As such this article shows the curious effect of Soviet legacies on contemporary notions of religion and culture.

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