Accepted Paper:

Traditional institutions in motion: a feminine Benedictine monastery facing transformations  


Anna Clot Garrell (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper examines transformations of a traditional institution: a Benedictine monastery. Drawing on the fieldwork in a feminine community, it discusses the modification and accommodation of monastic practices in relation and tension to the religious tradition and the late-modern societal dynamics.

Paper long abstract:

In the contemporary social scenario marked by the imperative of change and detraditionalisation dynamics which undermine plausibility structures for collective institutions (Hervieu-Léger, 2000), a question emerges: how monasticism remains as an institution and as a religious life option today?. This paper aims to analyse transformations of a traditional Benedictine monastery which represents an exception in the Catalan context due to its intergenerational community and openness towards society at large. Particularly, the attention will be devoted to the processes through which this monastery, so as to keep a new generation of nuns who entered in 1990s, has progressively modified and accommodated its traditional monastic practices and principles yet in continuity with the Benedictine heritage that it represents. In this regard, and focusing on concrete aspects derived from the fieldwork conducted in this feminine community -such as the holistic-spiritual activities in the guest quarters, the changes in the conception of individual, authority or enclosure-, the presentation will explore the ways through which this monastery, as a traditional and communal institution, critically relates with respect to the religious tradition and the present socioreligious Catalan context. The paper will conclude by showing the need for overcoming general scholar oppositions between adaptation versus innovation, individualised versus communal-collective practices and institutional versus alternative religious expressions, in order to develop a more inclusive analysis able to cope with the complexities of current religious transformations.

Panel P061
Religious trends toward intimacy and revolution