Mustafa Yakup DIKTAŞ
PoM Pontica Magna
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Drawing on my (the applicant’s) previous doctoral work, a comparative approach to two shared, Christian-Muslim pilgrimages on respectively BüyükAda, Istanbul and in Al-Batiyeh, Lebanon, and this project will address the practices and discourses surrounding the shrine of Saint Paraskeva in Iasi in north-eastern Romania. The annual pilgrimage to Paraskeva is one of the largest in Romania and certainly one of the most important in Eastern Europe. Structured by the Romanian Orthodox Church, the pilgrimage, while not chaotic, involves a broad range of practices. Based on ethnographic and archival work, the project will produce one of the first ethnographic monographs on Romania’s most important woman saint, developing an understanding of pilgrimage through interpretative frames such as imagined community, narrative, performance and ritual. Based on the premise that pilgrimage is a cultural construct which emerges from a specific social world, the work will also have a diachronic dimension. Not only will it capture the nature of the cult of Saint Paraskeva as it stood in the 2010s, but through interviews and examination of audio-visual, press and social-media coverage, it will examine how the pilgrimage has shifted in focus and scale in post-war Romania and notably since the end of the Communist period. Given the rarity of academic work on pilgrimage in Romania, this project offers a new contribution to the culturally charged topic of travel motivated by faith, one which relates closely to the different orders of a given society, orders which are in a state of flux in the present-day social climate marked by the pervasive use of digital platforms for the construction and circulation of meaning.