EASA2018: Staying, Moving, Settling
In this panel we want to examine intellectual contributions and debates involving the anthropological study of pilgrimage both across Europe and further afield. We want to locate the region within a global context where research draws on both European and non-European traditions.
In the rapidly expanding interdisciplinary field of pilgrimage studies, which covers not just religious pilgrimage but other key forms such as secular pilgrimage, spiritual pilgrimage, dark tourism, the relationship between travel, tourism and pilgrimage, many of the theoretical debates, methodological approaches and researchers have focused on the European context and most contributors are European in origin. In contemporary Europe the influence of different types of migration and tourism is becoming evident at some major Christian shrines and has also led to the emergence of non-Christian sites (primarily Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim). The diversity and complexity of pilgrimage practices is also apparent at more local shrines in the Balkans and the Mediterranean, for example, as members of trans-local communities return to their native countries during the summer holidays or re-settle. The growth of spiritual and secular pilgrimage and religious tourism adds to this diversity and complexity. Battlefield tourism and military pilgrimage illustrate the importance of cultural heritage since Europe continues to act as a magnet to non-European visitors, such as Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders, who feel connected through a shared past. In this panel we want to examine intellectual contributions and debates involving the anthropological study of pilgrimage (religious, spiritual, secular etc) both across Europe and further afield. We want to locate the region within a global context where research draws on both European and non-European traditions. We want to discuss not only the issues of reflexivity and autobiography but also discursive traditions linked to political and cultural systems.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Educational Pilgrims. Transnational Mobility of Music Students between Asia and Europe.
This paper seeks to conceptualize a specific pattern of student mobility as "educational pilgrimage". Using an ethnography of Taiwanese music students in Germany, it analyses individual experiences and cultural imaginaries against the backdrop of recent anthropological theories of pilgrimage.
When researching on pilgrimage, we are confronted with multiple cultural practices of mobility, which often, but not always, have a religious background. Alan Morinis defined pilgrimage as "a journey undertaken by a person in quest of a place or a state that he or she believes to embody a valued ideal" (Morinis 1992). Taking this definition as a starting point, the case of Taiwanese music students in Europe can serve as an interesting example for pilgrimage studies. It demonstrates how boundaries between student mobility and pilgrimage are sometimes blurred. Identifying themselves as musicians practicing "Western classical music", these East Asian students are often confronted with discourses about being "Asian" and therefore being unable to "authentically" play "Western" classical music. As a result, the students seek to find the "culturally authentic" way of playing music by studying at the place of "origin".
Based on an ethnography of Taiwanese music students, which I conducted from
2010 to 2016, this paper examines how "Europe" has become a "sacred site" of studying music for these international students from East Asia - in contrast to the learning environment at "home". It illustrates how pilgrimage plays a role in different transnational strategies of music students. By highlighting the spatiotemporal liminality which these students have created for themselves through studying abroad, I furthermore demonstrate how this specific cultural pattern of motivation affects their everyday routines and their experiences abroad, and how these transcultural experiences, in turn, empower them to "disenchant" the mystique of the origin they once believed in.
The away match: Turkish football tourism and pilgrimage on the edge of Europe
This paper takes journeys to away football matches in Europe as its lens to rethink the materialities and mobilities of modern forms of pilgrimage. Football pilgrimages, it argues, are a key device through which new European imaginaries are being woven.
On most weekday evenings during the football season, thousands of fans are flying across Europe to watch their sides play in European cup competition. My paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork with one particular group of this travelling patchwork: Europe-based fans for the Turkish football side Beşiktaş. 'Classic' theories of ritualization (Turner) capture part of the trip's allure for Beşiktaş fans: the transformative arc of separation, limen and reintegration that the away match, like pilgrimage more broadly, provides. Yet the centrality of the body to football fandom and the diverse and contradictory ways fans use them - drinking, fighting, swearing and chanting - problematises viewing the experience as a unified rite of passage.
I suggest we can hold these two analyses together by situating the experience within wider social and technological assemblages. From the rise of the budget airline industry and city-break tourism, to smartphones and the Schengen free movement area, I show ethnographically how imaginings of fan belongings become enmeshed both within the physical travel to an ever-changing kaleidoscope of places and the socially-mediated detritus of photos, videos and comments the journey conjures. The process, I argue, is fashioning new imaginaries of 'Europe', forcing us to rethink the cultural practices through which one lays claim to the label of 'European'. Looking outwards at Turkey and obliquely at sports, I conclude, can help us garner more purchase on the materiality and movements of contemporary pilgrimage practices, better understanding how these are feeding into wider political creations of what 'Europe' is and who belongs.
Two Types of Japanese Pilgrimage to Britain
This paper compares two types of Japanese pilgrimage to Britain; spiritual pilgrimage by those who are interested in or practising spirituality and Paganism and consider Britain as the sacred centre; and secular pilgrimage by those who love anime, because some anime locate their setting in Britain.
Although Japan does not share a long history with Europe, compared to the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and Christianity has not become popular there, some Japanese people visit Europe as a pilgrimage.
In this paper, I would like to examine two types of Japanese pilgrimage to Britain; spiritual pilgrimage (Pagans and spiritual seekers) and secular pilgrimage (anime fans). This paper is based on research conducted in the UK since 2005 and research on Japanese Pagans since 2017.
Japanese people who are interested in or practising alternative spirituality, magic and Paganism, often consider Britain as the sacred centre of their interest or practice. Some people stay and study magic or spiritual practices, and others visit London, Stonehenge, Glastonbury or Cornwall as a pilgrimage. They use what they saw and studied in Britain as daily practice after they return home. I will focus on London and Glastonbury as pilgrimage sites because both places are often identified as magical or spiritual spots in occult or spiritual magazines.
Although the number is small, some Japanese come to Britain as an "anime pilgrimage," which means visiting the location of specific anime, and is popular in Japan. Some anime locate the setting in Britain, and as a result big fans (otaku) visit the sites, such as Glastonbury Abbey and Fosse Farm in Wiltshire. This phenomenon can be regarded as an example of the new type of Japanese pilgrimage in Britain.
I conclude the paper by making a comparison of two types of pilgrimage.
Spiritual retreat tourism between India and Europe. Towards a phenomenology of life changing experiences
Drawing from a phenomenological study of spiritual retreat tourism in India, this paper aims to explore the way individuals spatialize and sacralize travel experience in its embodied and cognitive dimensions, during the episode of corporal journey - and within their daily life back home in Europe.
This paper explores the emerging transnational phenomena of spiritual retreat tourism. Through a phenomenological approach on the articulations of the inner life worlds of people going on such retreat and their "outer" social and personal circumstances, I will demonstrate that spiritual retreat places and practices interlink key features of statis within mobility and inner journey within geographical motion. Drawing specifically on the case of Europeans travelling to northern India to participate in Buddhist retreats, I explore the way these subjects spatialize and sacralize their travel experience in its sensorial, embodied, cognitive and social dimension. Based on this data, I will show that individuals are guided in the first place by a quest for mythical enchantment (Giovine & Picard, 2015), a search for a cultural shock that lead to a change of consciousness (Hyndman-Rizk, 2012), a desire to gain necessarily tools for self-transformation; while once back home, the everyday social and spatial setting become a field of "opportunities" for spiritual practices. By enchanting familiar mindscapes, paying a particular attention to their embodied commitment to everyday lifeworld, by desiring to re-create a social community of Buddhist practice, individuals transform their everyday life by challenging their newly learned and embodied networks of believes and behaviors. The work contests the structural dichotomies of sacred centers/destinations and the space-time of corporal travel opposed to a presumably quotidian or everyday life at home and hence contributes to the body of poststructuralist anthropological literature that approaches tourism and pilgrimage as interconnected forms of im/mobities.
Uncanny Pilgrimage: On the Experience of Unsettling
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.
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.
On not becoming another Lourde: The Non-Institutionalization of a Pilgrimage Site The Case of the Shrine of Mariam Bawardy
This paper explores a pilgrimage site of a recently sainted nun in contemporary Israel that remains outside the purview of most pilgrims to the region. Pilgrimage tourism and its logistics is suggested as one of the main explanatory mechanism.
The shrine of Mariam Bawardy presents us with an opportunity to further explore enchantment and routinization of pilgrimage sites in a rapidly globalizing world and against growing numbers of spiritual/religious and touristic pilgrims. The emerging site of this Carmelite nun should have been dramatically transformed against her recent canonization (2015) by the Pope. However, pilgrims and tourists, both local and international, do not frequent in growing numbers this unique location in the holy land. This intriguing case forces us to rethink the Weberian notion of enchantment in contemporary pilgrimage sites. The non-routinzation of the site and the pilgrimage (or the lack of) therein is explained against micro and macro geopolitics of tourism both religious and secular.
Certifying the Sanctity: the historicity of martyrs of communism
The paper discusses how the historicity of martyrs of communism is instrumentalised to certify the sanctity in the process of creating religious truthfulness. The religious pilgrimage represents the space in which the past materialises in the fabric of lived tradition.
In the lead up to the Soviet collapse, religious manifestations resurfaced in the public space. Eastern Christian communities seemed to elude from the hardened core of atheist Marxism and religion was vindicated by history. The spirit that spawned from the Romanian democratic revolution attempted to glorify the anti-communism resistance from the early years of the proletarian regime. Prisons which hosted the regime's dissidents were transformed into museums, displaying the hypostasis of political and religious oppression. Prisoners who suffered from communist re-education became "martyrs of communism". Narratives pervaded the social space and graves of martyrs developed as places of Orthodox Christian pilgrimage where mystical experiences contribute to the matrix of faith, determining the believer to acquire a new form of religious truthfulness.
The paper discusses how the religious pilgrimage enacts as a memory of the past, creating frameworks for certifying the sanctity by concomitantly experiencing mystical encounters with the perceived Saints. Unrecognized by the Official Church, the pilgrimage represents the space in which the past materialise in the fabric of lived tradition. In the aftermath of the pilgrimage, the Orthodox Christin becomes a specific type believer, using prioritisation tools as messianic time, the memory of the past and mystical experience for claiming religious truthfulness in the spectrum of possibilities which characterises the Orthodoxy.
Traversing Serendip - Anthropological considerations from the pilgrimage routes of Sri Lanka
This paper explores the cultural, political and hierarchical transformational processes experienced by Sri Lankan pilgrims participating in their annual 600km foot pilgrimage to Kathirkama. Pilgrim rituals, symbols and social dramas that illustrate this process will be presented.
The Kathirkama paatha yaathirai (foot pilgrimage) is an annual pilgrimage that traverses the length of Sri Lanka's eastern seaboard. During the island's civil conflict (1983 - 2009) the pilgrimage was sporadically shortened in length or abandoned completely. With the ending of the conflict devotees of the Hindu deity Murugan are again free to participate in their 600km journey south along the traditional pilgrimage routes.
The paper will initially present the mode and nature of pilgrim purification rituals and austerities, symbolic interpretations of religious attire, and the ongoing rituals participated in by the pilgrims on route. These ritual and symbolic processes will be explored in a pilgrimage context in which the participants renounce their names and titles, ideas of caste and class and enter/exist in a (quasi) sanyasi or renouncer world. This analysis attempts to illustrate the significance of the transformational process experienced by the participants from lay devotees to pilgrim 'swamis'.
It is through this analysis that the paper explores two central points. Firstly, the fundamentality of the pilgrimage as a valuable avenue for members of the Tamil Saiva (Hindu) community to practically explore central devotional and cosmological themes. Secondly, through transitorily renouncing society the pilgrims paradoxically step into a dynamic political and cultural relationship with society. An aspect of this relationship will be surveyed through the political ideals intertwined in attempts to harness the spiritual potency embodied by the pilgrims to strengthen social and political endeavours of contested and periphery villages.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.