Catherine Wanner

Professor of History, Anthropology and Religious Studies
Affiliate Faculty, The Rock Ethics Institute and the School of International Affairs
(814) 865-6689
302 Weaver Building
College of the Liberal Arts, Department of History

PhD, Columbia University, 1996

As a cultural anthropologist, my research centers on the politics of religion, conflict mediation, and human rights, especially in Ukraine, but more broadly in Eastern Europe.  I am the author or editor of six books on Ukraine, including the most recent, Everyday Religiosity and the Politics of Belonging in Ukraine (Cornell University Press, 2022). This book analyzes how an affective atmosphere of religiosity has shaped key historical events, including the Maidan protests, and has influenced the expansion of religiosity in public space and public institutions in Ukraine. My research on religion stems from earlier research on nationalism and historical memory and has since broadened to include how religion intersects with human rights, migration, and political protest.  My research has been supported by awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council, among others. In 2016-17 I was a visiting professor at the Institute of European Ethnology of Humboldt University and in 2019-20 a Fulbright Scholar at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. I was awarded the 2020 Distinguished Scholar Prize from the Association for the Study of Eastern Christianity.  

I am currently conducting research on religion and conflict mediation in Ukraine. The goal of this ethnographic research is to understand how facilitated dialogue can influence forms of participatory democracy as part of greater efforts to solve tangible problems of everyday life. This research considers how such forms of engagement might cultivate, mobilize, and sometimes transform (for better or for worse) theo-political values of trust, hope, and empathy, meaning shared cultural values with distinct religious underpinnings that have direct political relevance, and affect relationships and prospects for change in communities across Ukraine.

I am the convener of the research network, the Working Group on Lived Religion in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. 


More Information


2022 Everyday Religiosity and the Politics of Belonging in Ukraine. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

2021 “Empathic Care and Healing the Wounds of War in Ukraine” Emotions and Society. 3(1): 155-70.

2020 “An Affective Atmosphere of Religiosity: Animated Places, Public Spaces and the Politics of Attachment in Ukraine and Beyond” Comparative Studies in Society and History 62(1): 68-105. https://doi:10.1017/S0010417519000410. 

2020 “Empathy and the Militant Middle Ground” History and Anthropology 31(1): 21-23. 

2019 Co-editor with Julia Buyskykh, Antropolohiia Relihii: Porivnial’ni Studii vid Prikarpattia do Kavkazu. [The Anthropology of Religion: Comparative Studies from the Carpathians to the Caucasus] Kyiv: Dukh i Litera (in Ukrainian). Author of one article and co-editor of eleven articles. 

2019 “Commemoration and the New Frontiers of War in Ukraine” Slavic Review 79(2): 4-11. https://doi:10.1017/slr.2019.88.

2019 “Religion and the Cultural Geography of Ukraine” co-authored with Viktor Yelenskii in Regionalism without Regions: Reconceptualizing Ukraine’s Heterogeneity, Ulrich Schmid and Oksana Myshlovska, eds. Budapest: Central European University Press. 



Religion in Post-Communist Countries:  Interview with Catherine Wanner, December 12, 2021

The Conversation Series:  Christianity and Nationalism. Interview with Catherine Wanner, November 30, 2021