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Pilgrimage I

Session Chair: N.N. | Monday, August 24, 9-11 a.m. | Venue

Seán McLoughlin

Pilgrimage, Performativity, and British Muslims: Scripted and Unscripted Accounts of the Hajj

This paper concerns contemporary British-Muslim performances of Hajj. Analysing 60 interviews/testimonies, I signal the utility of pilgrimage studies for Hajj research. This is equally true of paradigms associated with sacred place, liminality and communitas, as postmodern approaches emphasising contestations of the sacred. However, also working across the anthropology/sociology of religion/Islam and diaspora studies, I also view Hajj as an example of Muslim religioning across local, multi-local and supra-local spatial scales. Therefore I dwell not only on Makkah but also religiously inspired and everyday experiences in locations before, during and after pilgrimage. Through embodied actions associated with the Hajj, its preparation and remembrance, Muslims shape their self-identities, spirituality and emotional lives, while at the same time reproducing authoritative Islamic scripts. However, the fragility of such performances by actors positioned by multiple and sometimes paradoxical lived structures such as consumer capitalism, means that pilgrims’ lived experiences also include unscripted uncertainties and ambivalences.

Mihaela Sighinas

The Development of Saikoku Pilgrimage in the Early Modern Japan: On Kōyo Shunō’s Kannon Reijōki and Saikoku Junrei Utagenchū

During the Edo period Saikoku pilgrimage is tainted with strong entertainment features, and its condition becomes complicated (for example, many pilgrims do not respect the order in which the temples should be visited; moreover they complete the pilgrimage circuit over the course of several interrupted visits). There are two positions among the Jōdo priests of the time, so as to stand up to these degrading morals and to regain the sacred meaning of pilgrimage, and they were expressed in a sacred genre of pilgrimage text called reijōki. (1) Shōyo Ganteki’s Saikoku Sanjūsansho Reigenki Shinshō (hereafter cited as Saikoku Reigenki) (Genuine Collected Writings of Miraculous Records of the Thirty-three Holy Locales of Saikoku), which dates from 1705 (this reigenki is a new edition of an earlier work dating from 1687); (2) Kōyo Shunō’s Saikoku Sanjūsansho Kannon Reijōki (hereafter cited as Saikoku Reijōki) (Record of the Thirty-three Holy Locales of Saikoku), and Saikoku Junrei Utagenchū, which date from 1726 and which have the same structure as the Saikoku Reigenki, therefore I consider them as a set, forming one single literary entity. In this presentation I focus on one major collection of Kannon engi, Saikoku Reijōki, yet by comparing it with Saikoku Reigenki I analyze its structural and ideological characteristics. I show that actually there was a significant development in the ideology towards pilgrimage and its benefits that influenced the later course of this literary tradition. While Shōyo’s Reigenki preserves the old medieval thinking that man must pursue only the after-world benefits, his reborn in the Pure Land, Kōyo’s Reijōki admits the social and ideological changes that were taking place at the time, and stresses the benefits to be gained in this world. His aim is to teach people that performing the act of pilgrimage could alleviate all sorts of woes and to motivate them in taking the road of pilgrimage. This leads to a spiritual dynamic between Kannon and the pilgrims, who entrust this and the afterlife in the hands of the compassionate bodhisattva.

Scott Esplin

Memorializing and Marking the Mormon Experience

Cold War America experienced a proliferation in the development of historic sites as the nation sought to affirm its greatness in the midst of social and cultural upheaval. At the same time, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism) desired to position itself within the grand American narrative, seeking acceptance as a mainstream faith. To do so, it developed its own historic pilgrimage sites, with the restoration of Nauvoo, Illinois as the chief project. As a religiously sponsored endeavor, however, the faith walked a fine line between historical interpretation and evangelization, a narrow charge that was further complicated by competition from rival faiths and longtime residents of the city. This paper will examine the development of Nauvoo, Illinois as a national and religious historic site, placing it within the context of religious historic sites development and pilgrimage in the twentieth century.

Juan E. Campo

The Ecological Impact of Mass Pilgrimage: A Comparative View

This paper is a comparative study of the ecologies of three modern mass pilgrimages: the hajj to Mecca, the south Indian pilgrimage to Sabarimala, and the pilgrimage to the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico city. Their phenomenal growth in recent decades requires significant investment in infrastructure and engagement of religious bodies, governmental agencies, technology experts, businesses, and non-governmental organizations. Such changes and adaptations have had serious ecological consequences, which have yet to be studied in comparative perspective. In this paper, I will explore three key facets to these pilgrimage ecologies: their representation in religious discourse, the extent to which mass pilgrimage has contributed to their deterioration, and efforts being made to ameliorate these impacts. The presentation will conclude with an assessment of the factors religious and secular that contribute to balancing the need to accommodate pilgrimage growth with the need to minimize or prevent ecological deterioration.


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