Anthropology Pilgrimage
by
John Eade, Evgenia Mesaritou
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766567-0195

Introduction

The multifaceted nature of contemporary pilgrimage cannot be understood from one particular discipline and, as a consequence, its study has become increasingly multidisciplinary and global in approach. Anthropologists have made a major contribution to pilgrimage studies but significant research has also been produced by those based in history, religious studies, tourism studies, geography, ethnology and folklore studies, for example, and by those undertaking research outside Europe and North America, including in the Near East, northern and southern Africa, the Asia Pacific region, Oceania, and Latin America. The contemporary practice of pilgrimage is also not restricted to institutional religion. Visits to nonreligious sites have become increasingly popular, reflecting historical change. Large numbers of people are attracted to sites of suffering, such as the First World War battlefields in France, Belgium, and Turkey; the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland and the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, and places associated with icons of popular culture, e.g., Elvis Presley’s grave in Memphis, Tennessee (see Reader and Walter 1993, cited under Development of the Anthropological Study of Pilgrimage). Furthermore, those journeying to and from religious pilgrimage sites have often little or no interest in institutional religion. Moreover, pilgrimage cannot be studied in isolation from wider contexts. Hence, as detailed in various sections in this article, close attention has been paid to the intimate relationship between pilgrimage and tourism, while increasing interest is being shown in the role played by political and economic processes in the development of pilgrimage. Evgenia Mesaritou’s Fellowship has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 752103.

Defining Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage will be defined here minimally as a journey undertaken by people around the world to and from one or more places that they consider to be particularly special or meaningful, as well as the activities which they undertake at the destination(s). Although the term has been intimately bound up with European Christianity, pilgrimage did not originally refer to religious beliefs and practices and gained a religious connection only during the Middle Ages. Pilgrimage as a term in English and other languages with a Latin root is embedded within a particular cultural context and other cultures may not have close equivalents.

  • Albera, Dionigi. 2018. Afterword: Going beyond the elusive nature of pilgrimage. In Pilgrimage and political economy: Translating the sacred. Edited by Simon Coleman and John Eade, 173–190. New York: Berghahn.

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    In this chapter, Dionigi Albera provides a detailed discussion of the linguistic roots of the English term pilgrimage and the latter’s role in bringing together disparate elements and local usages under one, seemingly unitary, unique label.

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  • Dyas, Dee. 2001. Pilgrimage in medieval English literature, 700–1500. Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer.

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    Explores how the development of three types of pilgrimage was related to a variety of texts, ranging from the Bible to popular devotion. The author then proceeds to show how multiple interpretations of pilgrimage were reflected in spiritual beliefs and practices as well as in writing.

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Development of the Anthropological Study of Pilgrimage

The anthropological analysis of pilgrimage gathered pace during the late 1970s and early 1980s but its origins can be traced much earlier. Anglophone scholars began belatedly to perceive the significance of an early paper on an Alpine pilgrimage, Hertz 1913. The author worked with Émile Durkheim and Marcel Mauss as a doctoral student. Attention is also now paid both to the pioneering work undertaken during the 1930s by Stefan Czarnowski, another student of Marcel Mauss, on Polish pilgrimage as well as to non-anglophone research undertaken during the 1950s and 1960s outside the English-speaking world, including in France, Italy, Mexico, and Brazil. A prime reason for the belated appreciation of this research was the very limited exchange of knowledge between anglophone and non-anglophone scholars primarily due to linguistic and disciplinary boundaries. Between the 1950s and 1970s English-speaking scholars, operating within the Durkheimian tradition, mainly interpreted pilgrimage cults in terms of their integrative function. However, the most stimulating combination of ethnographic observation and analysis was provided in Turner and Turner 2011 (originally published in 1978). The authors advanced a highly influential model in which pilgrimage was defined by its separation from the structural differences of everyday life. During the journey and at the destination, pilgrims were drawn into a world of antistructure and liminality characterized by “communitas,” where people were able to celebrate their universal humanity through ritual and play. The approach developed in Eliade 1987 (originally published in 1959) complemented the Turnerian model with its characterization of pilgrimage as movement to sacred “centers out there” where pilgrims can experience and express their engagement with absolute reality. During the 1980s, researchers exposed the empirical limitations of the Turnerian model and proposed alternative approaches (see Morinis 1984 and Sallnow 1987). An introductory chapter to a co-authored volume, Eade and Sallnow 1991 challenges claims concerning pilgrimage’s universal or homogeneous features and proposes that attention be paid to the different and sometimes contesting beliefs and practices expressed at particular places and times. Pilgrimage studies have grown rapidly and they now cover a wide range of substantive issues and theoretical debates across a number of disciplinary perspectives. Studies have explored different types of pilgrimage (religious, spiritual, secular), the interweaving of pilgrimage and tourism reflected in such terms as religious pilgrimage and pilgrimage tourism, as well as processes bound up with gender, ethnicity, nationalism, landscape, material religion, performance, and mobility. This broader vision has been influenced by various “turns,” i.e., cultural, spatial, mobility, ethical, non-representational) within the anglophone social sciences; however, an awareness of theoretical debates and empirical research beyond the anglophone world is also emerging with the gradual expansion of global networks. These developments are outlined in the sections following Methods: Qualitative Approaches and Personal Belief.

  • Coleman, Simon. 2002. Do you believe in pilgrimage? Communitas, contestation and beyond. Anthropological Theory 2.3: 355–368.

    DOI: 10.1177/1463499602002003805Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article discusses the development of pilgrimage studies with reference to the two leading theoretical paradigms. By pointing out the ways in which they overlap, Coleman suggests the theoretical directions that pilgrimage studies might take in the future.

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  • Coleman, Simon, and John Elsner. 1995. Pilgrimage: Past and present in the world religions. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    The book focuses on religious pilgrimage, past and present, and in a multidisciplinary, global context. It describes pilgrimage as both a physical journey across space and time and a “metaphorical passage” full of meaning for people.

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  • Eade, John, and Michael J. Sallnow, eds. 1991. Contesting the sacred: The anthropology of Christian pilgrimage. London: Routledge.

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    This edited volume of pilgrimage in France, Italy, Israel, and Sri Lanka is introduced by a chapter in which the co-editors propose an alternative to the Turnerian paradigm based on contestation. This proposition stimulated subsequent research and has played a significant role in the development of pilgrimage studies across different disciplines.

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  • Eickelman, Dale F., and James Piscatori, eds. 1990. Muslim travellers: Pilgrimage, migration and the religious imagination. London: Routledge.

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    A fine early contribution to the expanding study of global migration by Muslims, including pilgrimage, that has been regularly reprinted. It contains five chapters on pilgrimage to Mecca and to local saints’ shrines across both time and space.

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  • Eliade, Mercea. 1987. The Sacred and the profane: The nature of religion. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

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    Originally published in 1959. In this book Eliade develops his view of the human understanding of the relationship between the sacred and the profane through a discussion of how space, time, nature, and human life have been interpreted. His approach has complemented the Turnerian perspective and his definition of the sacred has influenced pilgrimage studies, despite its limitations.

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  • Hertz, Robert. 1913. Saint Besse: Étude d’un culte alpestre. Revue d’histoire des religions 67:115–180.

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    A pioneering study of a pilgrimage cult in northwestern Italy. Its exploration of the competition between different groups involved can be seen as a precursor to the later discussions of contestation initiated by Michael Sallnow and John Eade.

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  • Morinis, E. Alan. 1984. Pilgrimage in the Hindu tradition: A case study of West Bengal. Delhi: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    A study of three pilgrimage sites in India, which forms the basis for a critique of the Turnerian communitas paradigm. Morinis argues that this paradigm, developed in the study of rites of passage, fails to grasp the complexity and diversity of rituals practiced at pilgrimage shrines.

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  • Reader, Ian. 2015. Pilgrimage: A very short introduction. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/actrade/9780198718222.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author provides an overview of pilgrimage across time and space. He describes the links among religious, political, social, and economic processes, as well as people’s motives and modes of travel and the reasons for the continuing popularity of pilgrimage despite increasing secularization.

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  • Reader, Ian, and Tony Walter. 1993. Pilgrimage in popular culture. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

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    A pioneering volume that encouraged researchers to look beyond religious pilgrimage to other modes shaped by popular culture. A helpful introductory chapter by Ian Reader is followed by three sections: (1) three modern pilgrimages, (2) classic pilgrimages, and (3) pilgrimage, identity, and belonging.

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  • Sallnow, Michael S. 1987. Pilgrims of the Andes: Regional cults in Cusco. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

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    This book is based on Sallnow’s ethnographic study of pilgrimage among Indian rural communities in the High Andes of Peru. His account of the pilgrimage to a pilgrimage shrine in the mountains forms the basis for his exposure of the limitations of the Turnerian perspective.

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  • Turner, Victor W., and Edith L. B. Turner. 2011. Image and pilgrimage in Christian culture. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    Originally published in 1978. The book has made an impressive contribution to the development of pilgrimage studies through its model of antistructure and communitas and movement between the sacred and the profane over time and space. The book has been widely cited by both anthropologists and non-anthropologists.

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Methods: Qualitative Approaches and Personal Belief

The anthropological approach toward pilgrimage has been shaped by the discipline’s commitment to qualitative methods involving participant observation and study of the behavior and understandings of those involved in the journeys and at the shrines. With the growing critique of traditional “information gathering” through staged interviews, the engagement between the researcher and the material being researched has been seen in more dialogical terms, signified by the use of the term interlocutor, as well as by the development of autobiographical approaches and attention to the fieldworker’s own “positioning.” With regard to pilgrimage, Engelke 2002 points to the importance of Victor Turner’s conversion to Roman Catholicism during the 1950s for understanding the latter’s analytical model. The relationship between personal belief and research in non-Christian contexts is also noted in the case of Diana Eck’s influential studies of Hindu pilgrimage during the 1980s (see Claveyrolas 2017). The personal religious beliefs of researchers may lead them to ignore important elements in pilgrimage and to the propagation of analytical models that may represent one particular pilgrimage discourse (see Harman 2017). These quandaries relate to the long-standing “problem of belief” within the anthropology of religion (see Engelke 2002).

  • Claveyrolas, Mathieu. 2017. The amazement of the ethnographer: Hindu pilgrimage beyond sacred and profane. In New pathways in pilgrimage studies. Edited by Dionigi Albera and John Eade, 36–52. New York: Routledge.

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    The complex relationship between personal belief and the study of pilgrimage has been discussed in contexts other than Christianity. The author of this ethnographic study of pilgrimage in India refers to a historical example of how this relationship might have influenced research.

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  • Engelke, Matthew. 2002. The problem of belief: Evans-Pritchard and Victor Turner on the “inner life.” Anthropology Today 18.6: 3–8.

    DOI: 10.1111/1467-8322.00146Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An exploration of the epistemological and methodological problems involved in anthropological research of people’s personal religious experience. The paper discusses how the religious convictions held by E. E. Evans-Pritchard and Victor Turner informed their approach toward African beliefs and practices and the problems involved in trying to bridge the gap between “insiders” and “outsiders.” Available online by purchase or subscription.

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  • Hammoudi, Abdellah. 2006. A season in Mecca: Narrative of a pilgrimage. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

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    The author is a Moroccan anthropologist, who trained in France and taught in the United States. He provides a vivid portrait of how to study the complex religious and nonreligious processes involved in pilgrimage by drawing on both his academic training and his personal experience of undertaking the hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).

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  • Harman, Lesley D. 2017. Journeying home: Toward a feminist perspective on pilgrimage. International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage 5.2: 29–34.

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    The author builds on a seven-year study of Canadian women travelling back to their original island homes to explore pilgrimage as both a physical and an internal journey. Crucial concepts include place, sacred landscape, soul, meaning, and emotion.

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Pilgrimage and Tourism as Metaphors or Ideal Types

The use of pilgrimage and tourism as metaphors or ideal types has attracted a wide readership extending far beyond the boundaries of anthropology. MacCannell 2013 (originally published in 1976) provides a striking example, while Cohen 1979 influentially draws on the figure of the pilgrim in this model of different types of tourism. Graburn 1983 also draws on pilgrimage as an ideal type in this well-cited discussion concerning the relationship between pilgrimage and tourism. Widespread interest has been shown in the use made in Bauman 1996 of pilgrimage and tourism as metaphors to support the author’s thesis concerning the shift from structured modernity to liquid post-modernity (see also Hervieu-Léger 1999).

  • Bauman, Zygmunt. 1996. From pilgrim to tourist: Or a short history of identity. In Questions of cultural identity. Edited by Stuart Hall and Paul Du Gay, 18–36. London: SAGE.

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    Zygmunt Bauman draws on the figure of the pilgrim to explore the construction of identity in modern and postmodern conditions. While the pilgrim as a metaphor fitted modernity, postmodern conditions are typified by the tourist, stroller, vagabond, and player who resist being confined by institutional structures.

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  • Cohen, Erik. 1979. A phenomenology of tourist experiences. Sociology 13.2: 179–201.

    DOI: 10.1177/003803857901300203Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Cohen challenges stereotypes of tourists as either superficial pleasure seekers or searchers for authenticity by detecting five types of tourist experiences along a continuum. In so doing, he draws on the work of Mircea Eliade and Victor Turner to show the relevance of pilgrimage to this typology.

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  • Graburn, Nelson H. H. 1983. The anthropology of tourism. Annals of Tourism Research 10.1: 9–33.

    DOI: 10.1016/0160-7383(83)90113-5Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article draws on the work of Dean MacCannell, Victor Turner, and Erik Cohen to examine the relationship between tourism and pilgrimage. Graburn uses the Turnerian paradigm to discuss one of two types of tourism, namely, arduous, self-testing tourism.

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  • Hervieu-Léger, Danièle. 1999. Le pèlerin et le converti: La religion en mouvement. Paris: Flammarion.

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    Although this French scholar’s metaphorical use of the pilgrim is little known in the English-speaking world, her book has considerably influenced the debate about the continuing relevance of religion in contemporary society. She sees pilgrimage as a metaphor for the fluidity of contemporary spiritual journeying in contrast to the traditional churchgoer. Translated as: “The pilgrim and the convert: Religion on the move.”

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  • MacCannell, Dean. 2013. The tourist: A new theory of the leisure class. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    Originally published in 1976. A pioneering sociological study of tourism that draws on the “traditional” pilgrim as the metaphorical counterpart to the modern tourist. The author explores how the search by the tourist for authenticity is shaped by tourism’s staging in different social and cultural contexts.

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Pilgrimage and Tourism – Empirical Research

The category of pilgrimage has often been used to refer to religious travel while “tourism” is popularly associated with leisure and vacation travel (see Smith 1992). This approach interprets the two activities as distinct and even antithetical. However, empirical studies by those working in various disciplinary fields, as well as documentary filmmakers, have demonstrated the close affinities between people’s involvement in religious and nonreligious pilgrimage and tourism (see Badone and Roseman 2004, Collins-Kreiner 2010, and Mendel 2013), while some scholars, in works such as Nolan and Nolan 1992, have devised various typologies of pilgrimage centers and visitors to religious sites. Bar and Cohen-Hattab 2003 points out that these comparisons have been fruitful since they illuminate the complexity of modern forms of travel instead of branding these merely as “touristic.” Pilgrimage and tourism have also been seen as different modes of spatial movement representing a continuum’s two extremes, in between which are detected a variety of hybrid forms resembling or diverting from the two categories of tourism and pilgrimage in differing degrees (see Bar and Cohen-Hattab 2003 and Schramm 2004).

  • Badone, Ellen, and Sharon R. Roseman, eds. 2004. Intersecting journeys: The anthropology of pilgrimage and tourism. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press.

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    The volume features a wide range of case studies that range from pilgrims to Santiago and Walsingham to Star Trek fan conventions in North America in seeking to highlight the similarities of pilgrimage and tourism and question the sustainability of their dichotomous distinction.

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  • Bar, Doron, and Kobi Cohen-Hattab. 2003. A new kind of pilgrimage: The modern tourist pilgrim of nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Palestine. Middle Eastern Studies 39.2: 131–148.

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    This article looks at the revival of Christian pilgrimages to Palestine in the late Ottoman period arguing that these were modern tourist pilgrimages that blended the sacred and the secular.

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  • Collins-Kreiner, N. 2010. Researching pilgrimage: Continuity and transformations. Annals of Tourism Research 37.2: 440–456.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.annals.2009.10.016Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author seeks to explain how pilgrimage has changed through a review of research from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, where postmodern approaches have demonstrated the increasingly porous boundary between pilgrimage and tourism.

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  • Mendel, Tommi. 2013. Common Roads: Pilgrimage and Backpacking in the 21st Century.

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    This documentary film challenges the popular distinction between the serious, religiously inspired pilgrim and the pleasure seeking tourist through the experience of two female backpackers—one who walked the pilgrimage route across France and Spain to Santiago de Compostela and another who followed backpacker routes through Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos.

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  • Nolan, Mary L., and Sidney Nolan. 1992. Religious sites as tourism attractions in Europe. Annals of Tourism Research 19.1: 68–78.

    DOI: 10.1016/0160-7383(92)90107-ZSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this contribution the authors describe Europe’s religious tourism system with reference to pilgrimage shrines that serve religiously motivated visitors, religiously significant tourist attractions that have historic and/or artistic value, and religiously associated festivals.

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  • Schramm, Katherine. 2004. Coming home to the motherland: Pilgrimage tourism in Ghana. In Reframing pilgrimage: Cultures in motion. Edited by Simon Coleman and John Eade, 133–149. London: Routledge.

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    The author explores the different motivations and modes of travel involved in pilgrimage tourism through her anthropological study of African Americans visiting UNESCO World Heritage sites associated with slavery in southern Ghana.

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  • Smith, Valene L. 1992. The quest in the guest. Annals of Tourism Research 19.1: 1–17.

    DOI: 10.1016/0160-7383(92)90103-VSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This is the introduction to an issue focusing on pilgrimage and tourism. Smith points out how despite the difficulty of categorizing travelers in the West, the view of pilgrimage and tourism as distinct activities is diffused owing to religion’s increased secularization.

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Films

The increasing interest in religious pilgrimage around the world has led to a wide range of films produced for academic and non-academic audiences. These films have largely focused on religious pilgrimage, but recent academic productions have taken a wider perspective through portrayals of “cultural pilgrimage,” the intersections between pilgrimage and tourism, the influence of political processes, and relationship between pilgrims and the filmmakers. British anthropologists made a major contribution to introducing “other cultures” through a series made for Granada Television between 1970 and 1993 and the BBC from 1987 to 2000. Michael Sallnow (Pasini and Ash 1974) for example, made a significant contribution by drawing on his research in Peru. More recent films reflect some of the changes taking place within pilgrimage studies (see Lam 2007 and Smyer Yu 2012). A key theme emerging from many of the documentaries on pilgrimage is the coexistence, sometimes tense or conflictual, between the “official” beliefs and practices advocated by priests, monks, and other representatives of institutional religions and the beliefs and practices expressed by “ordinary” devotees. Some films also explore beyond the world of institutional religion and shamans, in particular, and they have attracted considerable anthropological interest (see Furst 2006). Recent documentaries include those inspired not only by institutional religion but also by “New Age” and “alternative” religious beliefs and practices, particularly with regard to those that treat individuals walking along the camino to Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain (Estevez 2010).

Virtual Pilgrimage

The use of the Internet to undertake what analysts have categorized as “virtual pilgrimage” or “cyberpilgrimage” (see MacWilliams 2002 and Hill-Smith 2011) has grown considerably around the world. Its increasing popularity is closely linked to global migration and the emergence of diasporic communities in the Middle East, Europe, and North America, whose members seek to maintain contact with shrines in their countries of origin. However, the attraction of virtual pilgrimage extends beyond those involved in global migration. It enables those who have already visited pilgrimage shrines to keep in touch with them or engage with similar shrines; it also provides an open door to those who are curious about pilgrimage and wish to learn more before physically visiting a particular shrine. Some websites seek to counter one of the perceived limitations of virtual pilgrimage, namely, its highly individualistic and disembodied character. Virtual pilgrims from the Hindu diaspora, for example, can contact any temple in India through the Internet and request a particular ritual to be performed for them; afterward, they receive images of the “flowers used in the ritual, puja certificate, or sacred ash” and “even a video recording of the event” (Helland 2007, p. 971). They can also pay extra for the material to be sent to them by post. One of Europe’s most popular Roman Catholic shrines—Lourdes in France—provides a similar service. The study of virtual pilgrimage has been developed largely by those working outside the field of anthropology. Given the long-standing anthropological commitment to physical involvement “in the field,” this scant interest is not surprising. However, some have come to appreciate while undertaking fieldwork the important role played by virtual communications among their interlocutors and its contribution to their pilgrimage experience (Kalinock 2006). They introduce not only scholars and themes emerging from these different contexts but also religious and nonreligious pilgrimage sites and practices (Howard 2017).

  • Helland, Christopher. 2007. Diaspora on the electronic frontier: Developing virtual connections with sacred homelands. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12.3: 956–976.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00358.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article examines the role played by diasporic religious traditions in building virtual networks between the country of origin and the country of settlement and the emergence of new religious practices on Internet websites. Diasporic links are forged not only between people but also between people and the “sacred” homeland.

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  • Hill-Smith, Connie. 2011. Cyberpilgrimage: The (virtual) reality of online pilgrimage experience. Religion Compass 5.6: 236–246.

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    This article suggests that cyberpilgrimage generally allows for a more individual, freer, and radical spiritual experience than terrestrial pilgrimage. It provides an overview of academic research concerning virtual pilgrimage and key debates as well as discussing, once again, the issue of authenticity.

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  • Howard, Christopher A. 2017. Mobile lifeworlds: An ethnography of tourism and pilgrimage in the Himalayas. New York: Routledge.

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    This study is set in Nepal and illustrates the important role played by virtual communications among those visiting the capital, Kathmandu, and the famous mountainous terrain beyond the city. This grounded study shows how distinctions between “here” and “there,” between “home” and “abroad,” and between the “authentic” and the “inauthentic” are undermined by global communications.

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  • Kalinock, Sabine. 2006. Going on pilgrimage online: The representation of the Twelver-Shia on the Internet. Online – Heidelberg Journal of Religions on the Internet 2.1.

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    This paper builds on ethnographic research in Teheran, Iran, to discuss the ways in which Shia rituals are mediated through the Internet, the relationship between traditional and new religious discourses, and the ways in which websites are influenced by offline cultural developments.

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  • MacWilliams, Mark W. 2002. Virtual pilgrimages on the Internet. Religion 32.4: 315–335.

    DOI: 10.1006/reli.2002.0408Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article examines the ways in which the sacred is reimagined through the Internet. Virtual pilgrimage as a mode of religious journeying is explored in terms of four features, where the fourth—“virtual travelling communities”—reveals the discourse of communitas.

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Pilgrimage and Gender

Most studies of gender have taken a relational approach with particular emphasis on the close association between gender and social and political processes at an everyday level. Anthropological research by William Sax on Hindu pilgrimage in India (Sax 1990), Nancy Tapper on local Muslim pilgrimage in Turkey (Tapper 1990), and Jill Dubisch on Greek Orthodox pilgrimage (Dubisch 1995), as well as Young 1993, a historical analysis of pilgrimage to Mecca, has been followed by a widening of the field and vision. For example, Howe 2001 examines the politics of sexual identity and nonreligious pilgrimage in San Francisco, while Fedele 2012 studies the relationship among gender, sexuality, and “alternative” modes of pilgrimage in Gender, Nation, and Religion in European Pilgrimage, an important volume on gender, nationalism, and religion.

  • Dubisch, Jill. 1995. In a different place: Pilgrimage, gender and politics at a Greek island shrine. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1515/9781400884414Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This anthropological study of journeying to a shrine on a Greek island combines an examination of the relationship between the observer and observed and an analysis of the ways in which religious pilgrimage is bound up with gender and political processes.

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  • Fedele, Anna. 2012. Gender, sexuality and religious critique among Mary Magdalene pilgrims in southern France. In Gender, nation and religion in European pilgrimage: Old routes, new journeys. Edited by Willy Jansen and Catrien Notermans, 55–69. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

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    This chapter based on anthropological fieldwork examines the ways in which women pursue alternative visions of gender through their beliefs and practices surrounding the “true” Mary Magdalene during visits to her French shrine. Their approach challenges the Roman Catholic Church’s discourses concerning the body and reproduction as well as associated European approaches to gender and sexuality.

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  • Howe, Alyssa C. 2001. Queer pilgrimage: The San Francisco homeland and identity tourism. Cultural Anthropology 16.1: 35–61.

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    This article looks beyond dominant constructions of (hetero)sexuality and approach pilgrimage through the lens of lesbian, gay, and queer tourism. Nation is here defined in terms of a San Francisco homeland and pilgrimage is studied in terms of iconic sites and events with reference to Turnerian understandings of liminality and communitas.

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  • Sax, William S. 1990. Village daughter, village goddess: Residence, gender, and politics in a Himalayan pilgrimage. American Ethnologist 17.3: 491–512.

    DOI: 10.1525/ae.1990.17.3.02a00050Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Through a study of visits by villagers to a regional shrine in India the author reveals the ways in which the pilgrimage confirms the different male and female perspectives toward marriage without undermining local traditions of gender inequality.

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  • Tapper, Nancy. 1990. Ziyaret: Gender, movement and exchange in a Turkish community. In Muslim travellers: Pilgrimage, migration and the religious imagination. Edited by Dale F. Eickelman and James Piscatori, 236–255. London: Routledge.

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    This ethnographic study, set within a small town in Turkey, examines the relationship among movement, gender, and exchange through an analysis of the differences between female and male inhabitants in travel outside the home, with particular reference to visits to the shrines of local saints and associated rituals.

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  • Young, William C. 1993. The Kaʿba, gender, and the rites of pilgrimage. International Journal of Middle East Studies 25.2: 285–300.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020743800058530Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A historical examination of the relationship between gender and ritual in the context of pilgrimage to Mecca. The author describes how Arab Muslims approached the Ka’ba—the shrine’s sacred center—as a bride and how this approach has influenced everyday gender relations.

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Pilgrimage, Politics, Nationalism, and Identity

The role played by political processes at national and transnational levels is attracting increasing interest. Wolf 1958, a study of the Virgin of Guadalupe shrine in Mexico City, demonstrates the importance of institutional politics in the development of pilgrimage, while the author’s interpretation of the Virgin as a master (national) symbol influenced some contributors to the more recent volume, Gender, Nation and Religion in European Pilgrimage (see Fedele 2012, cited under Pilgrimage and Gender). Tweed 1997, a study of Cuban Catholic migrants in Miami, explores the relationship among religious, political, and diasporic identity, while ethnographic research has also looked beyond the Christian context—see, for example, van der Veer 1994, an examination of the intercommunal conflict that developed around an Indian mosque, and Bianchi 2004, a more general analysis of the political influences shaping pilgrimage to Mecca. The relationship among pilgrimage, politics, and place-making is also investigated in contributions to Eade and Katic 2014, which focus on those European countries in which dramatic regime change has occurred.

  • Bianchi, Robert. 2004. Guests of God: Pilgrimage and politics in the Islamic world. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/0195171071.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    By showing the growing politicization of the hajj, this book challenges the widespread tendency to sharply separate the sacred and the profane, as well as popular assumptions concerning the place and role of religion and ritual in modern society.

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  • Eade, John, and Mario Katic, eds. 2014. Pilgrimage, politics and place-making in eastern Europe: Crossing borders. Farnham, UK: Ashgate.

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    This volume includes chapters exploring the relationship of pilgrimage, politics and place-making in former socialist countries, mainly in the Balkans, that were affected by dramatic socioeconomic and political transformation after the fall of communism involving a variety of conflicts and drastic changes in national identities and borders.

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  • Tweed, Thomas A. 1997. Our Lady of the exile: Diasporic religion at a Cuban Catholic shrine in Miami. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Cuban migrants’ Marian devotion in Miami is examined through an analysis of contested meanings as well as the shared meanings involving diasporic nationalism and religion, religious artifacts, religious rituals, and diasporic identity. The book finishes by considering the relationship between religion and place in the wider American context as well as how a theory of diasporic religion could be developed.

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  • van der Veer, Peter. 1994. Religious nationalism: Hindus and Muslims in India. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    An examination of the relationship between religion and politics, which builds on a detailed study of the dispute over a mosque in India that led to violent conflict between Hindus and Muslims in 1992. Pilgrimage is shown to play a key role here in the construction of religious identity.

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  • Wolf, Eric R. 1958. The Virgin of Guadalupe: A Mexican national symbol. Journal of American Folklore 71.279: 34–39.

    DOI: 10.2307/537957Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Looks at the Virgin of Guadalupe as a Mexican master symbol through which the interests and desires (political as well as religious) of the various constituencies of Mexican society can be represented and expressed.

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Shared Shrines

Those visiting pilgrimage shrines do not necessarily conform to one institutional religion and in various areas of the world sites have long been shared. In his book on Christian shrines and Muslim pilgrims in the Balkan state of Kosovo, Duijzings 2000 points to the ways in which conflict and coexistence between different ethno-religious groups have historically combined in different ways. Identities were not fixed and clear-cut but full of ambiguities since people may not abandon their old identities completely when adopting new ones. Ethnographic research undertaken in other parts of the Balkans, as well as around the Mediterranean and in India, have confirmed how porous boundaries can be and how people, practices, and beliefs can intermingle without necessarily being fused (see Bigelow 2010, Albera and Couroucli 2012, and Barkan and Barkey 2015). The degree to which shrines are shared has attracted considerable debate among those undertaking research in the Balkans. In advancing the concept of “antagonistic tolerance,” Hayden 2002 argues that coexistence in the Balkans may reflect the pragmatic attitude of competing groups that are unable to overcome one another and, therefore, have no option but to tolerate each other. This is toleration in the sense of passive noninterference and it is also to be seen in cases where one group has clear domination over other groups (Hayden, et al. 2016, p. 10). Hayden’s approach has led to a lively debate with Bowman 2009, in particular.

  • Albera, Dionigi, and Maria Couroucli, eds. 2012. Sharing sacred spaces in the Mediterranean: Christians, Muslims, and Jews at shrines and sanctuaries. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press.

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    This volume appeared first in French in 2009 and an English translation followed. It mainly focuses on Muslims and Eastern Christians in the Mediterranean exploring the cross-over of practices and beliefs.

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  • Barkan, Elazar, and Karen Barkey, eds. 2015. Choreographies of shared sacred sites: Religion, politics and conflict resolution. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    The volume introduces politics and state policies into the study of central and marginal shared shrines. The authors seek to understand why some sites become contested while others do not, as well as discussing the role and agency of the various stakeholders involved.

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  • Bigelow, Anna. 2010. Sharing the sacred: Practicing pluralism in Muslim North India. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    The author draws on her ethnographic research at a Muslim saint shrine in India that is frequented by Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus, and she shows the active and deliberate maintenance of the shrine’s openness by the various constituencies involved.

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  • Bowman, Glenn. 2009. Orthodox-Muslim interactions at “mixed shrines” in Macedonia. In Eastern Christians in anthropological perspective. Papers presented at a conference in September 2005 at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany. Edited by Christopher M. Hann and Hermann Goltz, pp. 195–219. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    Glenn Bowman engages with Robert Hayden’s discussion of “antagonistic tolerance” through an analysis of communal relations between Muslims and Orthodox Christians in this Balkan nation.

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  • Duijzings, Gerlachus. 2000. Religion and the politics of identity in Kosovo. London: Hurst.

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    This study of the relationship among identity, politics, and religion in a region deeply affected by conflict during the 1990s contains an important discussion of “joint pilgrimages and ambiguous sanctuaries.”

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  • Hayden, Robert M. 2002. Antagonistic tolerance: Competitive sharing of religious sites in South Asia and the Balkans. Current Anthropology 43.2: 205–231.

    DOI: 10.1086/338303Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article develops its argument about competitive sharing and syncretism through a comparison between contestations around saint shrines in South Asia and the Balkans. The article includes critical comments from several scholars, including Glenn Bowman and Peter van der Veer, and concludes with a response from Robert Hayden.

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  • Hayden, Robert M., Tuğba Tanyeri-Erdemir, Timothy D. Walker, et al. 2016. Antagonistic tolerance: Competitive sharing of religious sites and spaces. London and New York: Routledge.

    DOI: 10.4324/9781315642079Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book builds on Hayden’s article (Hayden 2002), developing the argument regarding antagonistic tolerance into a comparative model. “Shared” religious spaces are approached through the notions of antagonistic tolerance, religioscape and intertemporality.

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  • Kaell, Hillary. 2014. Walking where Jesus walked: American Christians and Holy Land pilgrimage. New York: New York Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814738368.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author draws on her fieldwork to explore the reasons why American Evangelicals visit Israel and Palestine and their experience of Christian sites in a predominantly non-Christian context. She locates their journeys within a historical perspective of religious discourses and practices in America as well as in the context of the growth of the travel and tourism industry.

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Pilgrimage as an Economic Activity

The authors of Turner and Turner 2011 refer to a “pilgrimage ethic” operating well before Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic and even suggest that medieval European pilgrimage may have created religio-economic connections, which, in due course, made “mercantile and industrial capitalism a viable national and international system” (Turner and Turner 2011, p. 234). Kaufman’s historical study of the Roman Catholic shrine at Lourdes (Kaufman 2005) shows how religious institutions may promote the mixing of religious and leisure activities. The author powerfully demonstrates the ways in which pilgrimage is both a spiritual and a material experience shaped by modern consumption culture. However, pilgrimage studies have paid scant attention to economic factors, even if some commentators are seeking to redress the balance (see Reader 2014, Coleman and Eade 2018). Reader 2014 claims that this neglect of economic factors is influenced by pilgrims’ frequent complaints concerning the commercialization and marketing of pilgrimage, which are informed by institutional discourses that present religion as an autonomous field of activity and pilgrimage as a “purely” religious practice (see Coleman 2002). A sharp difference often exists, therefore, between belief and practice, between what should happen and what actually occurs.

  • Coleman, Simon. 2002. Do you believe in pilgrimage? Communitas, contestation and beyond. Anthropological Theory 2.3: 355–368.

    DOI: 10.1177/1463499602002003805Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article discusses the development of pilgrimage studies with reference to the two leading theoretical paradigms. By pointing out the ways in which they overlap, Coleman suggests the theoretical directions that pilgrimage studies might take in the future.

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  • Coleman, Simon, and John Eade, eds. 2018. Pilgrimage and political economy: Translating the sacred. New York: Berghahn.

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    The volume brings together anthropologists working in various regions around the world to demonstrate the advantages of taking a “political economy” approach to pilgrimage. Contributors examine not only the geographical, material, and cultural movements implied in undertaking pilgrimage but they also move theoretical conceptualizations of pilgrimage into much wider analytical frames.

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  • Feldman, Jackie. 2014. Changing colors of money: Tips, commissions, and ritual in Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Religion and Society 9:143–156.

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    Through an analysis of relations between Jewish guides, Palestinian drivers, and Christian pilgrims, the author explores the intimate ties between the transfer of money and cultural classifications and seeks to demonstrate that money can support rather than corrode spiritual values.

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  • Kaufman, Suzanne K. 2005. Consuming visions: Mass culture and the Lourdes shrine. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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    Through her study of the development of Lourdes as a major pilgrimage shrine during the second half of the 19th century, Kaufman challenges the association of modernity with secularism and shows how the interweaving of spiritual and material experiences expressed the emergence of modern consumption culture.

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  • Reader, Ian. 2014. Pilgrimage in the marketplace. New York: Routledge.

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    Drawing on the study of pilgrimage in various areas of the world, Ian Reader explores the ways in which different interest groups compete within a pilgrimage market and shows the crucial role played by consumerism in the development and functioning of pilgrimage.

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  • Turner, Victor W., and Edith L. B. Turner. 2011. Image and pilgrimage in Christian culture. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    The authors analyze different types of pilgrimage, e.g., archaic, medieval, and postindustrial, in relation to their highly influential model of anti-structure and communitas. However, at the end of the book they also make an intriguing, if largely ignored, suggestion about the economic link between medieval pilgrimage and secular capitalism.

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Short Visits and Local Shrines

The focus on pilgrimage to famous contemporary religious and nonreligious sites where people spend several days away from their homes has tended to direct attention away from the increasing popularity of day visits and the varying fortunes of different sites. For example, those visiting pilgrimage sites at Walsingham and Glastonbury in England or members of package bus tours to shrines in Japan frequently “pop in” for the day (Coleman and Elsner 1998, Reader 2006, Bowman 2008). Furthermore, the revival of the popularity of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain after dramatic decline in the post-medieval period has benefited local shrines since those walking along the various routes across Europe to Santiago sometimes briefly visit them along the way (see Frey 1998). The growth of nontraditional pilgrimages can also help shrines to gain greater prominence and diversify their clientele (see Fedele 2013).

  • Bowman, Marion. 2008. Going with the flow: Contemporary pilgrimage in Glastonbury. In Shrines and pilgrimage in the modern world: New itineraries into the sacred. Edited by Peter Jan Margry, 241–280. Amsterdam: Amsterdam Univ. Press.

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    Bowman draws on her extensive research in this English town to explain the multivalent character of pilgrimage here; the juxtaposition of residents, visitors, spiritual tourists, and pilgrims; and the coexistence of traditional and nontraditional forms of pilgrimage.

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  • Coleman, Simon, and John Elsner. 1998. Performing pilgrimage: Walsingham and the ritual construction of irony. In Ritual, performance, media. Edited by Felicia Hughes-Freeland, 47–65. London: Routledge.

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    The authors describe the complexities of meanings and practices involved in pilgrimage to this English village through exploring the relationship among performance, irony, and play. They also note the similarities between their site and what Bowman observed in Glastonbury.

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  • Fedele, Anna. 2013. Looking for Mary Magdalene: Alternative pilgrimage and ritual creativity at Catholic shrines in France. Oxford and New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Anna Fedele’s study of visits to the shrine of Mary Magdalene in France by female “spiritual” pilgrims, who draw on “New Age,” feminist spirituality, and neo-shamanism, shows how a traditional Catholic shrine is attracting a widening clientele.

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  • Frey, Nancy Louise. 1998. Pilgrim stories: On and off the road to Santiago. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    Frey describes the wide variety of people walking along the camino to Santiago and their experience of journeying to the shrine and returning home. Some are on organized weekend trips while others are on the road for weeks; however, both modes of pilgrimage may involve brief visits to local shrines along the way or sites associated with the pilgrimage, such as the Cathedral of St. Mary of Burgos.

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  • Reader, Ian. 2006. Making pilgrimages: Meaning and practice in Shikoku. Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai’i Press.

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    Reader describes the historical development of pilgrimage on this Japanese island and its contemporary features where people follow the tradition of walking to the shrines while others come on package bus tours. More broadly, this book contributes to the growing volume of work on pilgrimage and tourism in non-Christian contexts outside of the West.

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Pilgrimage and the Anthropology of Christianity

Coleman 2014 notes that the emergence of an “anthropology of Christianity” associated with the growing significance of Christianity in the Global South has been characterized by far more interest in Pentecostal cults than pilgrimage (see Cannell 2006 and Robbins and Engelke 2010). Coleman 2014 explains this disparity in terms of the dominant analytical models of communitas and contestation employed in pilgrimage studies and the focus on the “apparent uniqueness of sacred context,” which have “often turned [pilgrimage] into an ‘apart’ culture, placing it within a theoretical and ethnographic ghetto.” At the same time, the author notes that the situation may be changing in response to the widening range of perspectives and themes outlined in the previous sections. Furthermore, drawing on his research in Walsingham, he suggests that pilgrimage as a trope may help the anthropological understanding of religious experience and ritual.

  • Cannell, Fenella, ed. 2006. The anthropology of Christianity. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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    Fenella Cannell brings together experienced anthropologists working in local contexts around the world involving different Christianities. In her introductory chapter she traces the inattention given to Christianity to the influence of the founders of anthropology and sociology, namely, Durkheim, Mauss, and Weber.

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  • Coleman, Simon. 2014. Pilgrimage as trope for an anthropology of Christianity. Current Anthropology 55.S10: S281–S291.

    DOI: 10.1086/677766Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author considers why the anthropology of pilgrimage has had a weaker impact on the emerging subfield of the anthropology of Christianity than research on Pentecostalism. Drawing on his fieldwork at Walsingham, England, he then outlines an alternative approach to pilgrimage that could strengthen the contribution of pilgrimage studies not only to this subfield but also to the study of ritual and religious experience more widely.

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  • Robbins, Joel, and Matthew Engelke. 2010. Introduction. In Special issue: Global Christianity, global critique. Edited by Joel Robbins and Matthew Engelke. South Atlantic Quarterly 109.4: 623–631.

    DOI: 10.1215/00382876-2010-009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors note the increasing interest in the global growth of Christianity among anthropologists and others and introduce the aim of the volume, namely, to bring together two discourses concerning this global phenomenon. One discourse focuses on recent changes in Christianity’s global character while the other—predominantly philosophical—engages with Christian, rather than secularist, “categories and materials.”

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Beyond the Representational Approach: Lived and Material Religion and Landscape

The emphasis on how people understand their journeys and destinations has led anthropologists to focus on how landscape as space is produced and consumed by human actors (including, sometimes, themselves). Landscape is assumed to be an object, therefore, rather than a subject with its own agency. Recently, some researchers have drawn on an alternative perspective that directs attention to the effect of the landscape on human actors. This perspective draws on the work by the British anthropologist Tim Ingold, who sees landscape as an active agent rather than a passive object of the human gaze. So far, non-anthropologists have made more use of this approach than anthropologists when studying pilgrimage. They have explored the power of place through people’s awareness of a particular landscape’s aura and their kinetic, sensual, and imaginative engagement (see, for example, Maddrell, et al. 2015). This approach connects with the increasing attention paid to “lived religion,” bodily practices and the emotional engagement with other people, places, and material objects (see Tweed 2008 and Orsi 2010).

  • Maddrell, Avril, Veronica Della Dora, Alessandro Scafi, and Heather Walton. 2015. Christian pilgrimage, landscape and heritage: Journeying to the sacred. New York: Routledge.

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    Drawing on different disciplinary traditions, the authors analyze the relationship among pilgrimage, cultural heritage, and tourism through a wide variety of themes, such as sacred space and practice, mobility, embodiment, cultural heritage, consumption, and commodification.

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  • Orsi, Robert Anthony. 2010. Introduction to the second edition. In The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and community in Italian Harlem, 1880–1950. 3d ed. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press.

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    In this empirical study Robert Orsi analyzes the messy, contested, and mobile ways in which “lived religion” is expressed through “embodied practice and imagination” and in which the material world plays a vital role in the practice of pilgrimage.

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  • Tweed, Thomas A. 2008. Crossing and dwelling: A theory of religion. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    Tweed seeks to develop a theory of religion that is both relational and dynamic through a focus on two spatial practices—dwelling and crossing—in the context of pilgrimage flows across landscapes to places and sacred objects. He also reflects on his own positionality and engagement with religion.

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