Dr. Dominic Martin

Dr. Dominic Martin

King's College, Cambridge, United Kingdom

  • Research topic:
    A Historical Ethnography of a Post-Soviet "Closed" City: Bolshoi Kamen 1997-2015
    June 2017
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While in residence at the Center for Urban History Dominic Martin worked on the topic: "The Social and Religious Life of a "Closed" Post-Soviet City: Bolshoi Kamen 1997-2015". Dominic Martin is a postdoctoral research associate at the Division of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge, where he teaches courses on the foundations of social anthropology, as well as on the post-Soviet area.

Dominic was trained as a social anthropologist at Cambridge, where he received his doctorate in 2016. His PhD was based on ethnographic and archival research on a religious community in the "closed" city of Bolshoi Kamen in the Russian Far East. His dissertation analyses how and why, in a city dominated by a submarine shipyard, a "revival" of the ancient dissenter tradition of Russian Orthodoxy, the Old Belief, was initiated by a group of the city's active youth. This "revival" resonated throughout the post-Soviet religious scene. Dominic has previously been a visiting researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Wissenschaftzentrum für Sozialforschung, Berlin. He was in 2014-15 a Fellow for the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science in Tokyo.

While in Lviv Dominic worked on a book manuscript based on his dissertation research. In the two decades from the nadir of Russian power in the mid-1990s to its military reassertion in the mid-2010s, an exceptional kind of social life was incubated on Russia’s Far Eastern periphery: within a city that, during this geopolitical interphase, had a special "closed" status. Sitting within a nexus of local, federal and global political rationalities, this mono-city managed - unlike most of its counterparts - not only to survive the post-Soviet transition, but to provide a context for the fluorescence of uniquely post-Soviet kinds of sociality and religious life. The book described how and why this flourishing happened in this particular locale, in a "closed" military industrial mono-town near the Sea of Japan, with both its historic human and non-human affordances. This analysis drew on insights from comparative urban history and ethnography of (Post-)Soviet everyday life, comparative materials that are amply available at the Center for Urban History.