Nature and Ethnicity in East European Paganism: An Environmental Ethic of the Religious Right?


  • Adrian Ivakhiv University of Vermont



relilgious environmentalism, Nature religion, BL435


Paganism is frequently cast by Anglo-American scholars as a form of “nature religion.” Some have also identified its political leanings as left rather than right. This article tests these preconceptions against the evidence provided by East European, especially Ukrainian, Paganism or “Native Faith.” The author examines Native Faith notions of nature as land, as “blood,” and as “tradition,” and argues that these are underpinned by a concept of “territorialized ethnicity”—the belief that ethnic communities are natural and biological entities rooted in specific geographical territories. The article traces this idea to its precursors in European and Soviet thought, and suggests that it may be more commonly found around the world than Western theorists presume. In light of such a different understanding of nature, the concept of “nature religion” may need to be rethought.

Author Biography

Adrian Ivakhiv, University of Vermont

Adrian Ivakhiv is an assistant professor at the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, where he coordinates the graduate program in Environmental Thought and Culture. He is the author of Claiming Sacred Ground: Pilgrims and Politics at Glastonbury and Sedona (Indiana University Press, 2001) and of numerous articles on environment, religion, and culture, which have appeared in such publications as Nova Religio, Culture and Religion, Ecotheology, Social Compass, Topia, Ethnic Forum, and Gnosis.


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How to Cite

Ivakhiv, A. (2007). Nature and Ethnicity in East European Paganism: An Environmental Ethic of the Religious Right?. Pomegranate, 7(2), 194–225.



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