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Regular version of the site

Book chapter

Паломництво хасидів в Україні: соціологічні рефлексії щодо міжкультурного сприйняття спільнот

P. 289-294.
Марченко А. М.

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.