Doubly Neglected: Orthodox Women Monastics in the Balkans. A lecture by Milica Bakić-Hayden (Religious Studies, University of Pittsburgh)

Monday, October 17, 2016

October 17 at 4:30 p.m.

The Franke Institute for the Humanities


In the history of Christian monasticism women played a part equally important to that of men, yet women's roles have not until recently been much recognized and studied. This is especially true for the Orthodox Church. This presentation, based on ethnographic study, is primarily focused on women monastics in the Serbian Orthodox Church, and documents the life stories and experiences of three generations of nuns who lived under very different historical circumstances in socialist Yugoslavia, then witnessed the wars of its disintegration and, finally, the gradual democratization of the Serbian society. Studying monasticism as a religious phenomenon related to the past is much easier than seeing it as a contemporary phenomenon, especially where women are concerned, since in earlier times it provided women with an alternative to married life and the social obligations tied to it. Given the choices of life-styles that women have today, what appeal could monasticism now have? Yet there are increasing numbers of women entering monasteries.  Who are the women who entered monasteries at the turn of millennia, and why? Their stories provide us with intriguing answers, and personal as they may be, they not only reflect the specific experiences of nuns as members of a unique social group within the Church, but offer revealing points of intersection with particular social and historical conditions, and thus represent rare commentaries on them. 


Milica Bakić-Hayden is a lecturer in the Department of Religious studies at the University of Pittsburgh (and a UChicago alum!). Her research focuses on issues concerning religion and society in the Balkans and South Asia.

This event is free and open to the public. Sponsored by: The Franke Institute for the Humanities, CEERES and the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. Persons with disabilities should contact CEERES in advance of the program at 773-702-0866 or