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Wise Women: Beliefs and Networks of Female Spiritual Figures in Central European Vernacular Religion

Project description

Women’s role in central European religious culture

Culture and religion in central Europe have been deeply impacted by political and economic changes in the region. New religions and New Age tenets penetrated central European societies and blended with traditional folk faiths and dominant religions, creating a complex religious culture. Women were instrumental in this process, but no systematic study has focused on this aspect. The EU-funded WiseWomen project will explore women’s role in the rise of heterogeneous religious culture in central European societies. It will focus on wise women, female experts of magic, medicine and religion as specific figures in contemporary urban and rural societies. Fieldwork will be carried out in multi-ethnic and multi-confessional communities in northern Croatia, south-western Hungary and Slovenia.

Objective

The cultural, political and economic changes have reshaped Central European societies in the early 1990s and they also brought religious pluralism. New religions and New Age phenomena from the West have blended with traditional folk belief and mainstream religions which resulted in a heterogeneous religious culture. Previous scholarship has already pointed at the importance of female actors in this eclectic religious / spiritual field, but this has not been systematically explored so far. The WiseWomen project aims to investigate the roles of women in creating meanings and innovations through religious beliefs and practices in Central European communities.
The main objectives of the research are 1. to understand the creation and the expressions of individual belief systems; 2. to explore the ways how religious experience is born and communicated; 3. and to investigate interactions through which religious expressions are negotiated. To highlight these processes from women’s perspective the project focuses on wise women, female experts of magic, medicine and religion as specific figures in contemporary urban and rural societies. During the inquiry multi-site ethnographic fieldwork will be carried out in multi-ethnic and multi-confessional communities in South Western Hungary, Northern Croatia, and Slovenia.
To obtain knowledge on the subjective and inter-subjective processes creating religious thought and utterances, ethnographic fieldwork combined with historical research provides the most appropriate methodology. Furthermore vernacular religion, a concept elaborated by Primiano, will serve both as a category of analysis and a practical model, because its bottom-up perspective highlights the individual actors. By integrating folklore studies, anthropology, ethnology of religion, religious history and sociology into an interdisciplinary approach, it enables the fellow to bring the creation and re-creation of religion by and among individuals into the spotlight.

Coordinator

UNIVERZA V LJUBLJANI
Net EU contribution
€ 162 040,32
Address
KONGRESNI TRG 12
1000 Ljubljana
Slovenia

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Region
Slovenija Zahodna Slovenija Osrednjeslovenska
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 162 040,32