Accepted paper:

Conflicting Utopia: discourses of ideal life, religion and economy in one of the new religious movements of the Carpathian basin


László Koppány Csáji (University of Pécs)

Paper short abstract:

Based on anthropological fieldwork among an NRM in the Carpathian basin, I examine with discourse analysis the members' and the leader's concepts and narratives of a utopia (and the caused conflicts).

Paper long abstract:

From 2010 I have conducted anthropological fieldwork among current religious groups in the Carpathian basin. One of them was organized by Prophet Denis (emic term is "dénes…Próféta"). He established a fundamentalist Christian community (network of individuals and groups) in Serbia, Romania and Hungary in 2008, when he got the "status of a prophet in the Heaven at the golden throne of the Heavenly Powers". Their missionary - with benediction, prayer and healing - is among Gypsies, Romanians and Hungarians. I analyze the group's discourses about their utopia. Prophet Denis has very detailed instructions how to build the ideal world, and get vivid contact with the Holy Spirits (he says there are many); but these are not accepted uncritically among the group's members. I study the coherency and the contrast between the prophet's ordinance of the ideal everyday life, economy, moral values, soul transmigration, said to be inspired and sometimes even expressed by the Holy Spirit, and the members' vernacular concepts and practice. I argue that the idea of the prophet (as an instruction of the power) does not totally overwrite the vernacular religion of the members; they interfere in the group's inner discourse. The group is not isolated: members keep their own personal discursive horizons, too. The outer world and the subgroups both cause incoherency at the discourse process. Conflicts, arisen from these disagreements, can end in a skip off by some, or in a change of the group's heterogeneous façade.

panel Reli003
Almost heaven: vernacular utopias and the culture of belief