Our highly esteemed and beloved colleague and friend, Sonja Luehrmann, passed away on August 24, 2019, a little over two years after she was diagnosed with cancer. As an Associate Professor in Simon Fraser University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Sonja modeled how to live a life devoted to learning. She was a brilliant and prolific scholar who produced innovative work on religion, history, politics, and Soviet and post-Soviet Russia. She was a devoted teacher and mentor. And she was a colleague who was, above all else, generous with her time, knowledge and insights.
It is difficult to encapsulate the breadth and depth of Sonja’s scholarship in just a few words, as her work crossed disciplinary boundaries, research methodologies, and modes of writing. Among her most important contributions was her commitment to combining anthropological and historical perspectives in imaginative ways. Her first book, Alutiiq Villages Under Russian and U.S. Rule, a published version of her Master’s thesis at the University of Frankfurt, uniquely combined an analysis of Russian archival sources, archaeological evidence and oral histories to produce a compara...read more
The Department of Sociology and Anthropology, in consultation with her family, has created the Sonja Luehrmann Memorial Fund. This fund will support the Dr. Sonja Luehrmann Memorial Lecture, an annual event that will celebrate Sonja’s passion for intellectual engagement. Throughout her exceptional research and teaching career, Dr. Luehrmann inspired her interlocutors both in and beyond the academy to think more compassionately about the changing landscape of religious belief and social commitment. Rigorously combining methods from both Anthropology and History, Dr. Luehrmann’s research focused on religion and secularism in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia. The goal of this fund is to continue her work by bringing emerging and established researchers to SFU to present lectures that engage our community in ideas related to her research.