Hasidic Pilgrimage as a Cultural Performance: Case of Contemporary Ukraine
In this article, principal attention is paid to the study of the Hasidic pilgrimage in contemporary Ukraine using the examples of two settlements, Uman and Medzhybizh. Hasidic pilgrimages remain ambiguous: on one hand, they are still unknown to many social scientists due to the speciicity and closed nature of the Hasidic community; on the other hand, their scale has attracted attention in the media, which gives the opportunity to speculate about diferent aspects of the phenomenon. Thus, this research intends to shed light on the Hasidic pilgrimage through the lens of cultural sociology and the conception of “cultural performance” as the most suitable theoretical and methodological tools in the analysis of this issue.
Critical review of the book on anthropology of pilgrimage.
The article examines intercultural perception during the Hasidic pilgrimage in Ukraine on the examples of Uman and Medzhybizh. Pilgrimage is defined as a form of religious tourism, which is specifically expressed in the role of the sacred - the pilgrims do not need encounters with the Other (cross-cultural interaction), they search for the direct presence by the sacred object. Taking into account the closed character of this religious community, methodical emphasis of the research was made on semi-structured interviews with the locals (24 interviews in Medzhybizh, 10 interviews in Uman) and several Hasids (1 in Medzhybizh and 2 in Uman), as well as annual observations in Uman during the pilgrimage period in 2009-2012.
The research gives ground to assert the existence of the conceptual differences in the perception of pilgrims by the locals of two mentioned settlements. Two basic topics are revealed in the perception of the phenomenon of pilgrimage: violation of the residents' comfort zone (leading theme in interviews with the locals) and a source of income for the population of Ukraine (one of the basic themes in interviews with the Hasids).
The findings suggest that local residents perceive pilgrims mostly under the phase of «culture shock» or «honeymoon» phase, according to the three-phase concept of cross-cultural perception, offered by Furnhem and Bochner. This is facilitated by the multiplying image of an «eccentric pilgrim» in Ukrainian mass media and, at the same time, short-term nature of pilgrimage, closeness of the Hasidic community and consistent policy of mutual segregation. It is suggested that personal contacts with pilgrims affect more positive perception of pilgrimage, in a whole. Pilot interviews with the Hasids reveal that residents are perceived by pilgrims rather fragmentary: as landlords of apartments or representatives of the local Jewish community. Spatial isolationism, which accompanies the pilgrimage, narrows the possibilities for cross-cultural interactions.
The paper analyses Ch. Péguy’s impact on ideas and works of Mauriac expressed in his journalistic writings.
The charismatic authority of living saints, startsy, poses a challenge to the official Church, whose legitimacy is based, using classical Max Weber’s typology, on the legal-rational type of authority. At the same time, the church tends to represent itself as a traditional pre-modern (and even anti-modern) institution in order to stress its role as a vehicle for transmitting the national traditions throughout the troubles that affected Russia in the 20th century. This dissonance between real practices and their discursive representations leads to the credibility gap faced by the Russian Orthodox Church. This is probably one of the reasons why many people prefer to practice religion outside the church walls, without being controlled by a parish priest or a congregation. Very different in their political orientations and regularity of their religious life, all these people can accept intimate and to some extent folkloric image of a saint who was attached to his cat and knew the future.
In post-Soviet Russia, as the society underwent rapid and crucial social changes, secular political elites and the broader public paid exceptional attention to the Orthodox elders as part of the process of looking for the “usable past”. This past would become the foundation of a new national myth, which was greatly needed at that time. Not surprisingly, the most comforting variant of the national past for most peoplewas its “cultural” variant as presented by the Orthodox religion, which started to be represented as the Russian national culture. In their search for the comfortingshared past different Russian elites,including bohemian circles, the so-called intelligentsiya, and new business and political elites, turned their attention to the old, modest religious men and women whom they combined in the category of startsy created at that particular time. These people were believed to live ascetic religious lives that were separate from all of the political intrigues of the Church, which was blamed by many for its collaboration with the Soviet (and later post-Soviet) state. In their remote parishes and monasteries, they represented, in the eyes of believers and sympathizers, a sort of ahistorical past, a national heritage, equal in its authenticity to the Russian song, fairy tale, or landscape.
Several approaches to the concept of fatherhood present in Western sociological tradition are analyzed and compared: biological determinism, social constructivism and biosocial theory. The problematics of fatherhood and men’s parental practices is marginalized in modern Russian social research devoted to family and this fact makes the traditional inequality in family relations, when the father’s role is considered secondary compared to that of mother, even stronger. However, in Western critical men’s studies several stages can be outlined: the development of “sex roles” paradigm (biological determinism), the emergence of the hegemonic masculinity concept, inter-disciplinary stage (biosocial theory). According to the approach of biological determinism, the role of a father is that of the patriarch, he continues the family line and serves as a model for his ascendants. Social constructivism looks into man’s functions in the family from the point of view of masculine pressure and establishing hegemony over a woman and children. Biosocial theory aims to unite the biological determinacy of fatherhood with social, cultural and personal context. It is shown that these approaches are directly connected with the level of the society development, marriage and family perceptions, the level of egality of gender order.
This article is talking about state management and cultural policy, their nature and content in term of the new tendency - development of postindustrial society. It mentioned here, that at the moment cultural policy is the base of regional political activity and that regions can get strong competitive advantage if they are able to implement cultural policy successfully. All these trends can produce elements of new economic development.