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SIEF2013 11th Congress: Tartu, Estonia.
30 June - 4 July, 2013

SIEF2013: Circulation

Tartu, Estonia; 30th June - 4th July

(P62)

Shifting sacrality and (re)locating the sacred

Location Jakobi 2, 114
Date and Start Time 02 July, 2013 at 14:45

Convenors

Marion Bowman (The Open University) email
István Povedák (Hungarian Academy of Sciences / University of Szeged) email
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Short Abstract

This panel examines complex ways in which 'the sacred' is located and relocated, conceptualised and re-conceptualised in a variety of contemporary European contexts, objects and behaviours, demonstrating different facets of the circulation of ideas and behaviours, objects and assumptions in a globalised environment.

Long Abstract

This panel examines ways in which 'the sacred' is located and relocated, conceptualised and re-conceptualised in a variety of contemporary contexts, objects and behaviours. The panel aims to bring together papers that are based on fieldwork conducted in various parts of Europe and deal with complex issues around assigning/ reassigning sacrality to places, objects and performance; ideas and activities involved in making landscapes and objects sacred; the use of natural phenomena and manufactured artefacts in the expression and assertion of sacrality, and the linking of the local and the global in specific localities.

Focussing on the fluidity of ideas, perceptions and behaviours, we aim to explore desacralisation and re-sacralisation; the repositioning of the sacred in the secular, and the impact of the secular upon notions and expressions of the sacred; and complex negotiations between the local and global, past and present.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Desacralization, popularization and re-sacralization of religious objects and symbols

Author: István Povedák (Hungarian Academy of Sciences / University of Szeged)  email

Short Abstract

On the basis of two case studies (the image of Virgin Mary; the double-cross) I try to introduce how a Christian symbol becomes a radical-right, neonationalist symbol in contemporary Hungary.

Long Abstract

In the past few years several important articles have been published on contemporary material religiosity, the popular usage of religious objects, the appearance of Christian symbols in 'mundane' mass culture and the circulation of religious symbols between religions and cultures. During this process certain religious symbols could partly lose their original meaning and mingle with symbols from differing religious-cultural canons. As part of this process a symbol could appear as a decorative or fashion object, obtain a primarily aesthetic character or be attached to political ideologies. These processes can be well analysed in post-socialist Hungarian culture where several Christian symbols have gained new or partly new content. On the basis of two case studies (the image of Virgin Mary; the double-cross) I try to introduce how a Christian symbol becomes a radical-right, neonationalist symbol generating political and scientific debates.

The global in local sacred place: making connections, creating continuities

Author: Marion Bowman (The Open University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores two different expressions of the global in the context of local sacred places: the ideas, aesthetics and praxis underlying the creation of sacred space and the articulation of local-global connections at Glastonbury Festival and the Pilgrimage Path at Luss, Scotland.

Long Abstract

In the wake of the apparition of Our Lady to Bernadette at Lourdes in 1858, Lourdes Grottoes began to be replicated in churches in Europe, America and elsewhere. These were frequently built by priests or parishioners who had had the experience of visiting Lourdes and who wanted to enable parishioners who would not be able to make the journey to have that experience at home. This phenomenon might be considered an example of the local becoming global and then re-localised or relocated. It underlines the fact that virtual pilgrimage and time-space compression are not new ideas, that the relationship between the local and the global can take a variety of forms.

This paper explores two rather different contemporary approaches to expressing the global in the context of local sacred places: the ideas, aesthetics and praxis underlying both the creation of sacred space and the articulation of local-global connections at the Glastonbury Festival in south west England and the Pilgrimage Path at Luss, Loch Lomond, Scotland. In both cases there is an assumption that the place itself is special or sacred, and there is an awareness of global as well as local sacredness, fed by insights from and awareness of a variety of religious and spiritual traditions. However, the aesthetics, assumptions and practicalities of 'space making' are distinctly different in the two locations, and an exploration of these lies at the heart of the paper.

Recycling and reusing the sacred: Rękawka fair in Cracow, Poland

Author: Kamila Baraniecka-Olszewska (Polish Academy of Sciences)  email

Short Abstract

The paper examines how religious content ascribed originally to pre-Christian paganism, but incorporated into a Catholic fair, was separated from it and used to create a reenactment of a pagan rite that took over also the place and the name of the Catholic feast.

Long Abstract

Rękawka was originally a Catholic fair - one of the favourite subjects of investigation for 19th century ethnographers, since it contained elements classified by them as pre-Christian. Forbidden by the Austrian administration during the partition of Poland, Rękawka reappeared contemporarily in a surprising form, i.e. as a historical reenactment of a pagan feast, prepared according to ethnographical data and relative to the original fair. My purpose is to examine how sacral contents circulate firstly in time and secondly through various cultural strata; how, in this particular case, they were transformed from ritual elements into ethnographical knowledge, and finally, interpreted by the "second" Rękawka organizers, again became at least quasi-ritual, as they are the basis for the rite reenactment which, secular in its assumptions, is commonly perceived as a neo-pagan, and consequently, religious.

Application of prehistoric beliefs to new sites: field observations about historical sacred natural sites in southern Estonia

Author: Reeli Reinaus (Centre of Sacred Natural Sites)  email

Short Abstract

My paper analyses the transformation of the concept ’sacred’ in a community and the transference of ritual traditions formerly connected with prehistoric sacred places to new sites. The analysis is based on evidence obtained during fieldwork on sacred natural places, conducted in 2012 in Estonia.

Long Abstract

In the summer and autumn of 2012, Estonian folklorists carried out fieldwork on historical natural sacred sites in the area covering three historical parishes in southern Estonia. The purpose of the fieldwork was to identify the natural sacred places or objects on landscape, relying on preliminary data, and both quantitative and qualitative description of the places for a systematic survey. The primary objective of exploring the historical sacred places is to map their current condition and develop criteria for placing these under protection.

Archive texts were of invaluable help in identifying and outlining the sacred sites on the landscape, while interviewing the local population to determine the truthfulness of written evidence and collecting additional lore about the sites proved to be even more important. The most problematic aspect of determining the location of the sacred sites was the changed natural landscape and knowledge of the lore. The locals no longer remembered the sacred sites which had been destroyed tens of years before, many existing objects were not considered sacred any more, and earlier lore about the sites had been forgotten.

Surprisingly for the researchers, some meaningful natural objects w hich traditionally did not have a historical or folkloric representation, had come to be considered sacred by a community or an individual. Some of these were single rocks that people had found and placed in their home yards, others included, for example, a spring that is believed to have curative properties, even though there was no prior information about it available.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.