Accepted paper:

The hardening of pilgrims. Masculinized bodies on the move in the Camino pilgrimage

Authors:

Lena Gemzöe (Stockholm University)

Paper short abstract:

The aim of this paper is to explore the significance of masculinized modes of movement among Swedish pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela. How can this proces of masculinization be analysed in order to contribute to an understanding of the popularity of walking pilgrimages?

Paper long abstract:

The aim of this paper is to explore the significance of masculinized modes of movement among Swedish pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela. I start out by pointing to the fact that the Camino pilgrimage evolved as a predominantly male phenomenon that continues to attract men to a relatively large degree, compared to other religio-spiritual practices. Women predominate, however, among Swedish Camino pilgrims. In a discussion of three ethnographic examples, I argue that a process of masculinization of the pilgrims' bodies is manifested in various ways; walking is associated with "the hardening of men" including endurance of pain and keeping one's word, male and female pilgrims evoke metaphors of pilgrims as warriors, and a recent trend that combines fasting and walking involves a masculinization of the female pilgrim's body. How are these complex, gendered processes of meaning-making related? How can they be analysed in order to contribute to an understanding of the growth and popularity of the Camino pilgrimage (and other walking pilgrimages)?

panel P101
Travelling religion, religious travel. Gender challenges in theory and ethnography [Anthropology of Gender and Sexuality Network]