Legal Aid in Mosques in Central Russia: Between Civic Activism and Bureaucracy

Denis Shedov


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This article examines the phenomenon of legal aid provided by mosques for Muslims in the regions of Central Russia. The case study is based on examples of mosques in Yaroslavl and Kostroma. This article investigates whether such practices are symptoms of the bureaucratization of mosques and Islam, or manifestations of civic activism in the Muslim community in modern Russia? Based on empirical data collected during observations and interviews in Yaroslavl and Kostroma in 2018–2019, it concludes that cases of legal consultations in mosques illustrate the intersection of two logics at the same time, namely, bureaucratization and the expression of civic identity for Muslims. Moreover, the author argues that there is no insoluble contradiction between these logics, despite the use of the concepts of bureaucracy and activism in everyday language.


mosque; legal culture; bureaucratization of Islam; civic activism


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