Accepted Paper:

Anxious bodies, performing selves: Greek Orthodoxy in inter/action  


Eugenia Roussou (Centre for Research in Anthropology (CRIA, ISCTE-IUL))

Paper short abstract:

In the contemporary Greek religious landscape, where Orthodox Christianity encounters new forms of spirituality, bodily praxes negotiate the dynamics of faith. Drawing on my ethnographic research concerning the Greek “evil eye”, this paper focuses on the significant role the body holds in everyday faith/full interactions of performed religiosity

Paper long abstract:

Faith/full performances are closely intertwined with bodily praxes. Religion is experienced and expressed corporeally, embracing manifestations of belief and dynamics of spirituality. Drawing on my ethnographic research, which has dealt with the "evil eye" practice in Crete and northern Greece, I shall negotiate the variety of embodied acts of faith in the context of Orthodox Christianity. Religion in Greece is stereotypically synonymous with Orthodoxy- in terms of national/ethnic identity claims, as well as of everyday perceptions of being. Contemporary Greek religiosity, however, is far from homogeneous. Hand-in-hand with 'official' Greek religion, new forms of spirituality are to be found; practices, such as the "evil eye", which, despite a contrasting relationship with Christian Orthodoxy, embody religious belief, inhabiting a 'sacred' space in close proximity with the latter; supernatural experiences, perceived with the body, which are regarded as complementary religious phenomena; and practices, such as yoga and feng-shui, which have, during very recent years, gained popularity, and have claimed their existence in the spiritual ideology of Greeks. In this synthetically religious panorama, 'soma' holds a central position: in 'official' ritualism [ranging from Church liturgies and the Holy Mysteries, to exorcisms and priest blessings] and in everyday ritual practices ["evil eye" healing, religiously driven everyday somatic performances and spiritual exercises]. My aim in this paper, hence, is to focus on these anxious bodily interactions of performed religiosity, which challenge the 'Orthodox' representation, rendering it a religion-of-embodied-action.

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Body and soul: on corporeality in contemporary religiosity