Event—Public Programming

The Doukhobors: Religious or Political Group?

In 1895, roughly 7000 Russian communal peasants publicly rejected the Tsar's authority and militarism by burning their weapons and proclaiming pacifism. During the same period, the Canadian government was soliciting peasants to agriculturally expand its colonial sovereignty over Indigenous, or so-called "empty," land in the prairies. Leaving persecution, the Doukhobors were given land and "conscientious objector" status by Canada - but at what cost? This talk sheds light on how the government cast the Doukhobors' pacifism in an anachronistic "religious identity." Looking into their history, we find a much more ambivalent political spirituality, a heritage which offers resources for their own survival and reckoning with their settler colonialism.