Accepted paper:

Russian Orthodox Icons and New Sacred Geographies in the United States

Authors:

Julia Klimova (University of California at San Diego)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses the transformation of space into place by Russian Orthodox Christians. Specifically, I will analyze the role of sacred objects in infusing foreign landscapes with familiar religious and cultural meanings, and in the re-mapping of spiritual traditions into new geographies.

Paper long abstract:

This paper will discuss the transformation of space into place by Russian Orthodox Christians in the United States. Specifically, I will analyze the role of sacred objects (icons) in infusing foreign landscapes with familiar religious and cultural meanings, and in the re-mapping of spiritual traditions into new geographies. Icons in Orthodox Christianity are tightly connected with intimate spiritual experiences of the divine, mobilizing the senses and steering the imagination. Yet they also can act as mediators between individual believers and events in social and political life - as will be discussed in the case of visit of two miracle working icons from Russia to Orthodox churches in the United States. Based on three years of ethnographic study and interviews with parishioners (almost all of them recent immigrants to the US) of one Russian Orthodox church in Southern California, this paper will illustrate how icons alleviate the uncertainty of cultural uprootedness by infusing new landscapes with symbolic meanings and memories of home and national religious tradition. I will draw from contemporary anthropological theories of mobility and transnational communities, in which space is no longer considered to be a container for native cultures, rather it is viewed as a process of constant remapping of cultural and religious traditions onto new geographies, and re-creation of new spatial arrangements that synthesize local, regional and global dynamics (Levitt 2007; Malkki 1997; Vasques and Marquardt 2003).

panel W016
Space, place and religious rituals in the context of migration (EN, FR)