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Pilgrimage (2/2)

25-121 | Tuesday, 9 a.m. | 123
Session Chair: Carole Cusack

Daniel Andersson

Archaeotopia, spirituality and religious tourism

The Lonely Planet bookseries was founded in 1973. The aim was to ease travelling for independent backpackers searching for more “original”, less developed sites. Even though the books still focus on backpackers they also cover the whole tourism-spectra. Nowadays tourism, as well as literature on tourism and religion (Stausberg 2011, Swatos Jr & Tomasi 2002) has grown out of all proportions. This is the global society. In religious terms, this is the subjective turn - the return of individualized religiosity among secular westerners. Just as in the beginning, the detailed guidebooks of Lonely Planet are aimed at young, urban, westernized people. They visited the same spots as the charterpackage tourist. But they also moved on to more original, “indigenous” sites. Today there are no such sites. Still the backpacker needs them. Otherwise he or she is just a tourist. Here religion has come to play a role. New in this context is the spiritual quest. Albeit the fact that travellers/trekkers are secular they embrace a new religious discourse so palpable in contemporary western societies. So do the guidebooks. It is evident that many presentations in the books more often than before give example of traditional or new age- inspired religious language with words like ”power places”, ”pilgrimages”, “crossing space between the physical and the spiritual worlds”. Religion is selling. An example of this can be seen in the 1981 edition of India. A Travel Survival Kit compared to one recent edition. Hervieu-Leger argues that in the contemporary “postmodern” world religion is an ideological phenomenon by which individual and collective sense of “belonging” is created. As major religious traditions transform or even decline, other spiritual narratives appear. This in turn creates new collective memories and a longing for nostalgia or archaeotopia (coined by Mexican antropologist Bartra). The Lonely Planet series then can be seen as a tool for young people to cope with a stressful contemporary world and in searching for a reversed utopia.

Jens Kreinath

Transformative Dynamics of Mimetic Acts: Aesthetic and Semiotic Dimensions of Saint Veneration at Interreligious Pilgrimage Sites in Hatay, Turkey

The study of interreligious pilgrimage sites gained significant attentions among scholars of religion (Fowden 2002; Bowen 2012; Albera/Couroucli 2012). However, scholarship on interreligious encounters at sites of saint veneration has not yet succeed the present a coherent theoretical framework. This paper is designed to make a methodological and theoretical contribution to the interpretation of saint veneration at interreligious pilgrimage sites. A central concern of this contribution is to employ the concept of mimesis in analyzing the transformation of interreligious relations unfolding at pilgrimage sites. Rituals of saint veneration are conceived as mimetic acts as they become efficacious through imitation and representation. In conjoining ethnographic scrutiny and analytical refection, this paper aims to open up new theoretical and methodological venues to capture the ritual dynamics of saint veneration through the concepts of mimesis and to include the study of mimetic processes of ritual practices as central to theorizing interreligious relations.

Knut Aukland

The circuit and the guide: Tourist forms and formats in Hindu pilgrimage

Hindu pilgrimage is promoted, facilitated and packaged by the tourism industry in India. As a result, tourist forms and formats have become part of the pilgrimage scene, such as tourist guides and circuits. The paper presents the Himalayan Char Dham pilgrimage whose recent success is argued to be a result of the local tourist government making it into a circuit – a unit of destinations to be developed, promoted and sold as a package tour. As a tourist circuit the pilgrimage is juxtaposed with other destinations and framed in new ways by the tourist agencies that sustain and promote it. The second case study compares the guided tours of priestly and tourist guides in Vrindavan and Haridwar, arguing that the dynamics of contemporary Hindu pilgrimage means that traditional institutions have to adapt to a changing market where tourist stakeholders and practices become increasingly significant.

Suzanne Van Der Beek

Opposites attract: diversity and contradictions on the modern Camino

Since the reanimation of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela at the end of the 20th century, the ever-increasing community of modern pilgrims that travel to the shrine of Saint James attempt to re-invent this medieval Catholic ritual in a way that makes sense to the modern spiritual pilgrim. The Camino has enjoyed a staggering surge in popularity over the last twenty to thirty years and this is mainly due to the great range of different opportunities for meaning-making it provides, and the freedom it allows the modern pilgrim to create a personal and individual character for their journey. This presentation will illustrate this broad pallet of spiritual opportunities offered by the Camino, and show how a traditional ritual was successfully appropriated by a modern community of new users by allowing for diversity and contradictions.