Uncanny Pilgrimage: On the Experience of Unsettling
Evgenia Mesaritou (University of Toronto, University of Cyprus)
Simon Coleman (University of Toronto)
Paper short abstract:
Juxtaposing two cases of unsettlement and how they play out in subsequent pilgrimages, we argue that ritualized movement may entail engagement with spaces that are experienced as uncanny. Moving between two contrasting 'home' experiences, pilgrims blur divisions between moving, staying, settling.
Paper long abstract:
While the linking of pilgrimage with tourism is now a long-standing trope, less attention has been played to the connections such travel may have with other forms of movement- forced and unforced. In this paper we juxtapose two cases of unsettlement of populations, and ask how these cases play out in relation to subsequent pilgrimage practices. One example deals with the returns 'home' of Greek Cypriots as they revisit a monastery located in territory lost to them after the still ongoing division of the island. Here, history is close enough to be retained within the living memory of many of who travel 'back.' The 'affective force' of memory and postmemory (Hirsch 2008: 109) as defined by Marianne Hirsch (2008), therefore shapes and is being shaped by the pilgrimage experience. The other example examines the experiences of contemporary English Catholics as they engage in pilgrimage spaces that recall a long-lost, pre-Reformation, pre-Anglican nation. Here, the trans- rather than the inter-generational structure of postmemory becomes important (ibid: 106, 108). Rather than seeing pilgrimage as purely mitigating the traumas of such displacement, we argue that ritualized movements may involve material engagements with spaces that come to be experienced as uncanny, and thus both unsettled and unsettling. In moving not between 'home' and 'away,' but between two contrasting experiences of 'home,' the pilgrims we examine confound distinctions between moving, staying and settling.
Changing face of European pilgrimage [Pilgrimage Studies Network] I