A Red Golden Legend? Muslim Hagiographic Experiences in the USSR and Popular Democracies (with the participation of Prof Silvia Serrano)

Project summary

A blind spot of social-science research, the study of sainthood in the (post-) communist world unveils unknown aspects of the history and sociology of areas exposed, since the 1920s, to quick and extremely diverse socioeconomic transformation in the name of one ideology. In connection with the brutal demographic engineering of the short twentieth century and with the labour migrations of past decades, territories, communities of varied scales have come to light, many now sanctified, as elements of revaluated religious legacies. Practiced from ex-Yugoslavia to the PRC, Islam reflects the unity and the diversity of this phenomenon. Through data collection and comparative analysis, the project must cast light on the hagiographers’ reappraisal of the short twentieth century and analyse the respective contributions of the protagonists of the hagiographic process, within specially gendered distributions of the religious work. Revisiting Jacobus de Varagine’s thirteenth-century Legenda Aurea (‘Golden Legend’), this project will approach sainthood in action in societies characterised by both communist pasts and religious pluralism, from ex-Yugoslavia to China, with special interest in Islam in comparative prospects (with Orthodox Christianity and Chinese religions, notably).

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Project dates



Coordinated by Stéphane Dudoignon (CNRS) & Marie-Paule Hille (EHESS).


ANR -Agence nationale de la recherche –French National Research Agency.