Jeanne Kormina, Ekaterina Khonineva et Sergei Shtyrkov ont codirigé le 55e volume de la revue Antropologicheskii forum (55, 2022). Ce numéro spécial, intitulé “Material Turn and Anthropology of religion”, se compose de diverses contributions dont vous pourrez consulter les résumés en anglais ci-dessous :
Kormina Jeanne, Khonineva Ekaterina and Shtyrkov Sergei. MARTHA’S LADLE: AN ANTHROPOLOGY OF RELIGIOUS INFRASTRUCTURE
The infrastructural turn in the social sciences comes from a tendency to change the anthropocentric epistemology in social research. This new approach corresponds to the classic program of social anthropology as it makes the known unknown and provides one more perspective which helps reveal the invisible politics, inequalities, and social ten- sions. Yet, when it comes to the social research in the field of religion, the interest to how infrastructures work has not resulted in new academic discourses and research practices so far. This article outlines some directions and topics in the anthropology of religion which stem from the infrastructural turn. First, it highlights the work of the social imagination of believers when they deal with thick or thin (poor) infrastructural systems. Secondly, it discusses the moments of infra- structural breakdown which provoke believers to generate semiotic ideologies in order to represent their experience of communication with non-human agents, both mundane and divine. The infrastructural approach to understanding religious life does not pretend to become a new research methodology or social theory. Rather, it suggests that thinking infrastructurally on typical topics for anthropology of religion, such as pilgrimage, charity, memory or historical imagination, helps us to better understand the logic which shapes the everyday life of a religious person and community. Furthermore, it helps us remember that religious and secular domains of life are usually not separated in ethnographic reality.
Shtyrkov Sergei. “MATERIAL RELIGION” AS A METHOD IN SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY AND THE PROBLEM OF THE RESEARCHER’S ACCESS TO “REAL” RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE
The methods of “material religion” elaborated in social anthropology and the materialistic(marxist)approach to the study of religious life are methodologically different ways of turning our accustomed understanding upside down: the spiritual activity of homo religiosus, acting as generating source, produces something material—sacred images, houses of prayer, and objects of worship. The method of material religion involves determining how the culturally specific sensory experience of the individual generates that which is interpreted by this individual, their fellow believers, and external observers—who usually receive accounts of such states in narratives—as actual religious experience. But behind what is read as a replica of the spiritual, disembodied world there is always the work of man, which, however, can be difficult to recognize in this quality. The marxist materialist perspective, inevitably sharpened critically against religion as a typical ideology, seeks to find a basis for spiritual life in the economic conditions of human existence and society, which in this tradition of understanding human nature, are inevitably linked to labour. These two research traditions, which have the potential to enrich each other, remain in different segments of the academic field. One possible common ground for a collaborative project for these two perspectives is the study of infrastructural aspects of religious life. Another collaborative project could be the very work of social anthropologists who, using their bodies and intellect as their most accessible and potentially inalienable research tool, produce experiences comparable to those of believers and translate them into the terms of social science.
Kormina Jeanne. THE TSAR’S ROAD: INVISIBLE INFRASTRUCTURE AND PIOUS LABOUR IN CONTEMPORARY RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY
A religious infrastructure, from the point of view of a religious person, consists of two parts—tangible and intangible. Whereas a tangible part of a religious infrastructure includes material things and buildings which make religious life possible, an intangible part is created by invisible agents who govern people and material things. The invisible world is no less real for a believer than a visible part of the infrastructure, therefore in her religious life a believer seeks for such moments when she can experience the integrity of this ecosystem. A typical example of such projects are processions of the cross, highly popular religious events in contemporary Russia. The article analyses the tsar’s processions of the cross in Yekaterinburg which commemorate the massacre of Nicholas II and his family, which were later canonized as orthodox saints. To analyse these religious projects, the author introduces the concept of pious labour. She argues that pious labour is a collective effort of believers which aims at binding together tangible and intangible parts of the religious infrastructure. in contrast to pilgrims and religious tourists who come to sacred places to consume grace, participants in the processions of the cross produce grace by doing the pious labour of keeping their religious ecosystem coherent and well-integrated.
Shtyrkov Sergei. THE IRON KHADZAR AS AN ELEMENT OF THE SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE IN A MODERN NORTH OSSETIAN CITY
The article describes khadzars—special ritual houses built in the courtyards of residential areas of Vladikavkaz (Republic of North Ossetia—Alania) that have become elements of informal social infrastructure. As a venue for ritual feasts, khadzars are built by families living in a multi-storey house or complex of houses and are the responsibility of the “khadzar activists”—groups of adult men who organise and oversee collective rituals during funerals, memorials, Ossetian and national calendar festivities, and sometimes weddings. These same men often use the khadzar to pass their leisure time in it. Built with the tacit consent of local authorities and actively used by them to, for example, hold meetings with residents during election campaigns, khadzars nevertheless remain illegal structures with an unclear legal status. The lack of clarity on this issue becomes a problem when utility companies start demanding that residents enter into separate contracts to connect the khadzars to the city’s infrastructure—heating and electricity—which poses a challenge to the neighbourhood community. This raises the question for the house or yard community as to who really owns these buildings and who should therefore take care of their fate.
Davydova Alena, Shtyrkov Sergei. “THIS, THEY SAY, IS YOUR LOCAL PLACE OF POWER”: SPIRITUAL TOURISM ON SEYDOZERО THROUGH THE EYES OF GUIDES ON THE KOLA PENINSULA
So-called spiritual tourism, the most important part of which is travelling to “places of power”, is a dynamically developing trend in the tourism industry. However, the market for services in this field is far from being transparently and pragmatically structured in every place. Sometimes it is consistently transformed through the creation and promotion of an easily recognisable consumer product offered by specialised entrepreneurs. Somewhere, however, this market develops using the resources of structures already present in the field that were not specifically designed for it. The purpose of this study is to analyse certain aspects of the process, which can be defined as the arrival of a new consumer where they have not been expected, where the tourism industry is defined by a long-established infrastructure. the guides who provide travel to familiar geographical locations are an important part of this infrastructure. They are faced with new tourists to whose unusual practices they have to adapt. Among other strange things, guides have to deal with the fact that their clients have a habit of attributing meanings to local objects that are unknown to the guides themselves. In other words, these “guests” bring with them something that is usually produced by the “hosts”, local people who are supposed to be privy to local knowledge. But the particular history of settlement in this region creates in the guides a sense of a lack of authentic information about the past of these places. Under these circumstances, in an attempt to create the necessary historical narratives, they enter into difficult negotiations with their clients about what kind of past the most popular spiritual tourism destination in the Murmansk region, Seidozero, should base its reputation on.
Kormina, Jeanne (dir) ; Khonineva, Ekaterina (dir) ; Shtyrkov, Sergei (dir). “Material Turn and Anthropology of Religion”, Antropologicheskii forum (vol. 55, 2022). St Petersburg : Kunstkamera / European University at St Petersburg, 2022
Page de la revue (en russe) : https://anthropologie.kunstkamera.ru/05