Sanctifying human experience in terms of social communication
Marilena Papachristophorou (University of Ioannina )
Paper short abstract:
The paper discusses storytelling practices in terms of everyday communication that convey human experience as part of the local cosmology in a small insular community in Greece.
Paper long abstract:
Talking about miracles, sacred objects, and encounters of humans with demons and saints constitutes an everyday practice in the island of Lipsi (southeast Aegean, Greece). This "flow" of stories told by all members of the community at every kind of gathering makes a collective identity trait through which the islanders communicate their perception of local history and shape their present lives as well. In our ethnography of Lipsi, storytelling emerges as an "art", in terms of aesthetic expression through performance. However, at the 'very moment' of our fieldwork experience, which lasted a little over ten years, one cannot clearly perceive the lines that separate religious worldview from dominant ideology within the community: in that system of ideas and representations, the natural and supernatural worlds are perceived as an indivisible whole whose parts are in constant communication, either through miracles, hierophanies and visions or through an abundance of wishes and invocations that people utter all the time in their everyday routine. Storytelling and vernacular religion are complementary on multiple levels in this example, with the use of common symbols proving to be more durable than practices, even when the framework of official religion has changed. It is on this narrative web, which unfolds as oral tradition, as ritual practices or as landscape, that community members portray their routes over space and time. The paper will focus on the storytelling practices of the community, presenting fieldwork data registered during 2005-2011.
Anthropology of storytelling