New Book on Personality Cults

Darin Stephanov's picture

We would like to announce a recent publication from Routledge:

Ruler Personality Cults from Empires to Nation-states and Beyond: Symbolic Patterns and Interactional Dynamics (Routledge Studies in Modern History):

Encompassing five continents and twenty centuries, this book puts ruler personality cults on the crossroads of disciplines rarely, if ever, juxtaposed before: among its authors are historians, linguists, media scholars, political scientists and communication sociologists from Europe, the United States and New Zealand. However, this breadth and versatility are not goals in themselves. Rather, they are the means to work out an integrated approach to personality cults capable of overcoming both the dominance of much-discussed 20th century poster examples (Bolshevism-Nazism-Fascism) and the lack of interest in the related practices of leader adoration in religious and cultural contexts. Instead of reiterating the understandable but unfruitful fixation on rulers as the cults’ focal points, the authors focus on communicative patterns and interactional chains linking rulers with their subjects: in this light, the adoration of political figures is seen as a collective enterprise impossible without active, if often tacit, collaboration between rulers and their constituencies. 


Table of Contents


Symbolic Patterns and Interactional Dynamics in Ruler Personality Cults: State of the Art and Open Questions


Kirill Postoutenko and Darin Stephanov


1. "Personality Cults": The Career of the Contested Notion


Dmitri Zakharine


2. The Mechanisms of Cult Production: An Overview


Xavier Marquez


3. Making the Cult of Personality from Bottom Up: The Case of Seventeenth-Century Mughal India


Ali Anooshahr


4. A Personality Cult against One’s Will? Traits and Trajectories of Popular Veneration of Emperor Alexander I (r. 1801-1825)


Darin Stephanov


5. Of Death and Dominion: Queen Victoria and the Cult of Colonial Loyalty


John Plunkett


6. The Magic Mirror: Supplicant Letters and the Role of False Equivalences in Shaping Ruler Dominance


Eva Giloi


7. Father of the People, Face of the Nation: The Premodern and Modern Foundations of Ruler Personality Cults


Alexey Tikhomirov


8. The Image of Josip Broz Tito in Post-Yugoslavia: Between National and Local Memory


Tamara Trošt


9. Deification, Canonization and Random Signaling: Upholding and Sustaining Personality Cults


Kirill Postoutenko


10. ‘We Thank You, Our Beloved Leader!’ The Origins and Evolution of Nicolae Ceaușescu’s Cult of Personality


Manuela Marin


11. Embodied Practices of Leadership: The Case of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan


Charlotte Joppien


12. Symbolic Patterns and Interactional Dynamics in Ruler Personality Cults: Responding to Questions and Formulating Ideas for Future Research


Kirill Postoutenko and Darin Stephanov




Kirill Postoutenko is Senior Researcher in the Special Research Area 1288 (Practices of Comparison) at Bielefeld University, Germany, and Visiting Professor of Russian at the University of Besançon, France.


Darin Stephanov is Guest Researcher at the Islamic Cultures and Societies Research Unit at Aarhus University, Denmark.