Walking back to happiness? Protestant pilgrimage in relation to utopias, realities and heritages 
Marion Bowman (The Open University)
Tiina Sepp (University of Tartu)
Start time:
24 June, 2015 at 10:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

This panel concentrates on one significant aspect of contemporary pilgrimage: the theologically intriguing trend towards Protestant Pilgrimage. Whether denominational heritage/roots tourism, or a longing for a pre-Reformation world of sensory experiences, this topic deserves focussed attention.

Long Abstract

Although scholarly, popular and disciplinary definitions of pilgrimage may vary, it is undeniable that travel to and from significant sites for varied religious and spiritual activities has proliferated in recent decades.

Coleman and Eade, in Reframing Pilgrimage: Cultures in Motion, identify in contemporary pilgrimage 'diverse processes of sacralization of movement, persons and/or places' (2004: 18). In this panel we concentrate specifically on the theologically intriguing trend towards Protestant Pilgrimage that appears to be sweeping Europe (and beyond).

The panel will examine such issues as the act of walking (what people feel is happening, or what they believe is brought about by, the very act of 'walking with intent') and its popularity for Protestants; Protestant re-framings or re-narrations of pilgrimage; the material culture, performativity, relationality and identity-formation of Protestant pilgrimage.

Whether protestant pilgrimage is more about travelling than arriving at hallowed ground, whether it is more denominational heritage/roots tourism than devotional journeying, whether the current Protestant enthusiasm for pilgrimage reflects a longing for a pre-Reformation world of sensory experiences and closeness to nature, bringing together folklorists and ethnologists exploring this phenomenon in a variety of contexts, from different angles, will foster an informed overview of Protestant pilgrims and pilgrimage which can contribute to a more integrated understanding of this phenomenon in the 21st century.

Contributions based on contemporary fieldwork from a variety of contexts and countries especially welcome.

Marion Bowman, Religious Studies, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.

Accepted papers: