Catherine Wanner


Professor of History, Anthropology, and Religious Studies


  • Social Sciences
  • Politics & Policy

Focus Areas:

  • Anthropology
  • History
  • International Affairs

In The Media:


  • Wanner is an expert in the politics of religion in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, especially Ukraine and Russia.
  • Her research is focused on the church-state relations, public space, secularism, and migration.

Catherine Wanner is a professor of history, anthropology, and religious studies at Penn State. Her research employs ethnographic and archival methods and centers broadly on the politics of religion, secularism, and increasingly on human rights in the former Soviet Union. She is particularly interested in how the shifting politics of religion and processes of secularization in the USSR have shaped the social and cultural practices of everyday life in post-Soviet societies.

She is the author of Burden of Dreams: History and Identity in Post-Soviet Ukraine, a multi-sited ethnographic study of how the nationalist paradigm influenced historiography and cultural politics in Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union, as well as Communities of the Converted: Ukrainians and Global Evangelism, an analysis of how Soviet-era evangelical religious practices and communities in Ukraine have changed since the collapse of socialism. Her most recent book will be published in 2022, Everyday Religiosity and the Politics of Belonging in Ukraine.

In 2020 she was awarded the Distinguished Scholar Prize from the Association for the Study of Eastern Christian History and Culture. Her research has been supported by awards from the U.S. National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Science Research Council and the National Council for Eastern European and Eurasian Research. Since 2014, she is the convener of the Working Group on Religion in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. In 2016-17 she was a visiting professor at the Institute of European Ethnology of Humboldt University and in 2019-20 she was a Fulbright Scholar at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Ukraine.

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