Konrad Siekierski (KCL) - 2017-18 Students

Pilgrimage and Sacred Places in Modern Armenian Culture

In this research project, I explore modern Armenian pilgrimage in a variety of its contemporary forms, contents, and contexts, which so far have not been studied in detail. My primary research focus in on how the pilgrimage is enacted and what meanings it imbues, as well as how it reflects and responds to the changing character of the Armenian transnation. Within this research scope, I offer an ethnographic lens onto collective and individual aspects of pilgrimage, the interactions between folk, popular, and elite activities in sites of devotion, and the conservative, revivalist and modernizing forces within pilgrimage. The ethnographic foundations of this research include studies on: 1) pilgrimages in Armenia organised by the Armenian Apostolic Church; 2) ‘vernacular’/‘popular’ Christian pilgrimages and sacred sites in Armenia; 3) pilgrimages and religious feasts of the Armenian diaspora in Romania; and 4) Armenian diaspora pilgrimages to the lost homeland of ancestors in the eastern provinces of Turkey. As a result, my research project promises not only to yield the first in-depth anthropological analysis of the Armenian pilgrimage culture, but also to address through a specific lens of pilgrimage a range of questions equally important to the anthropology of religion and to research on memory, heritage, tourism, and post-Soviet transition as well as to diaspora and transnational studies.

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