The Russian Orthodox presence in Australia: The history of a church told from recently opened archives and previously unpublished sources

PhD Thesis

Protopopov, Michael Alex. (2005). The Russian Orthodox presence in Australia: The history of a church told from recently opened archives and previously unpublished sources [PhD Thesis].
AuthorsProtopopov, Michael Alex
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The Russian Orthodox community is a relatively small and little known group in Australian society, however, the history of the Russian presence in Australia goes back to 1809. As the Russian community includes a number of groups, both Christian and non-Christian, it would not be feasible to undertake a complete review of all aspects of the community and consequently, this work limits itself in scope to the Russian Orthodox community. The thesis broadly chronicles the development of the Russian community as it struggles to become a viable partner in Australia's multicultural society. Many never before published documents have been researched and hitherto closed archives in Russia have been accessed. To facilitate this research the author travelled to Russia, the United States and a number of European centres to study the archives of pre-Soviet Russian communities. Furthermore, the archives and publications of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church have been used extensively. The thesis notes the development of Australian-Russian relations as contacts with Imperial Russian naval and scientific ships visiting the colonies increase during the 1800's and traces this relationship into the twentieth century. With the appearance of a Russian community in the nineteenth century, attempts were made to establish the Russian Orthodox Church on Australian soil. However, this did not eventuate until the arrival of a number of groups of Russian refugees after the Revolution of 1917 and the Civil War (1918-1922). As a consequence of Australia's 'Populate or Perish' policy following the Second World War, the numbers of Russian and other Orthodox Slavic displaced persons arriving in this country grew to such an extent that the Russian Church was able to establish a diocese in Australia, and later in New Zealand.;The thesis then divides the history of the Russian Orthodox presence into chapters dealing with the administrative epochs of each of the ruling bishops. This has proven to be a suitable matrix for study as each period has its own distinct personalities and issues. The successes, tribulations and challengers of the Church in Australia are chronicled up to the end of the twentieth century. However, a further chapter deals with the issue of the Church's prospects in Australia and its relevance to future generations of Russian Orthodox people. As the history of the Russians in this country has received little attention in the past, this work gives a broad spectrum of the issues, people and events associated with the Russian community and society at large, whilst opening up new opportunities for further research.

KeywordsOrthodox Eastern Church; history; Australia
PublisherAustralian Catholic University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Research GroupSchool of Philosophy
Final version
Publication dates
Online31 Jan 2005
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