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Negotiating Marian Apparitions

The Politics of Religion in Transcarpathian Ukraine

Agnieszka Halemba
Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw

This book concerns the politics of religion as expressed through apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Dzhublyk in Transcarpathian Ukraine. The analysis provides insights into the present position of Transcarpathia in regional, Ukrainewide, and European struggles for identity and political belonging. The way in which the apparitions site has been conceived and managed raises questions concerning the fate of religious communities during and after socialism, the significance of national projects for religious organizations, and the politics of religious management in a situation in which local religious commitments are relatively strong and religious organizations are relatively weak. The analysis contributes to the ethnography and history of this particular region and of the post-socialist world in general. The changing status of the apparition site over the years allows investigation of the questions concerning authority, legitimacy, and power in religious organizations, especially in relation to management of religious experiences.

“Taking as a starting point the messages of the Virgin Mary to two girls in 2002, the author makes extensive interviews with Greek Catholic clergy in Transcarpathia to provide a detailed panorama of an organization (the local eparchy) torn between closer ties with the Ukraine or closer ties with the Vatican, and the laity of region, torn between an identity as Ukrainian, or a more diffuse identity in keeping with the variety of ethnic groups in Transcarpathia. The book’s most original aspect is the application of anthropological methods to the study of clergy and diocesan organization, not just laity, and its engagement with theology and liturgy.” William A. Christian Jr., author of Divine Presence in Spain and Western Europe 1500–1960. Visions, Religious Images and Photographs (CEU Press, 2012).

328 pages,19 photos, 2015
978-615-5053-36-8 cloth $60.00 / €52.00 / £40.00

Leipzig Studies on the History and Culture of East-Central Europe
ISSN 2416-1160
Volume II

"The analysis is thoroughly grounded in the history of the region and her own recent ethnographic fieldwork at multiple locations within the Irshava Deanery between 2006 and 2011. These aberrant religious phenomena in a remote region of central Europe serve as a catalyst for a highly original study of the intersections between religion and politics in a post-Soviet state where Catholic and Orthodox forms of Christianity have long been intertwined. The recent crisis in Ukraine increases the work’s topicality.
The issues raised by Halemba on the basis of her rich historical and ethnographic materials will intrigue and inspire many scholars in religious studies as well as anthropology, the sociology of religion, and postsocialist studies. The book is attractively produced and illustrated. It is above all well-organized and scholarly. The author’s insistence on conceptual clarity pays dividends, notably her clear distinction between an organization (such as the Catholic Church) and an institution (such as a Marian apparition). Her emphasis on the ways in which a conservative, even reactionary, cult can promote new negotiations of local social relations and religious innovation is convincingly supported." - Slavic Review

Table of Contents

List of Maps and Photographs ix
Acknowledgements xi
A Note on Transliteration xv

CHAPTER 1
Introduction
Religious Experiences, Institutions, and Organizations 4
Religious Organizations in (Post)socialism 21
Field Research 26
Structure of the Book 33

CHAPTER 2
The Dzhublyk Apparitions and Modern Apparitional Patterns
The Site 44
The Visionaries and the Managers 50
The Messages and the Visions 57
Networks of Support and Transnational Connections 65
Crisis Conditions 69
Organizational Embracement, Organizational Rejection 71
Concluding Remarks 84

CHAPTER 3
Nation and Church in Transcarpathia
Transcarpathia in Today’s Ukraine and the Rusyn Question 89
A Sui Iuris Eparchy within Present-Day Ukraine: A Brief History 97
A strong eparchy with an ambiguous status:
from the Union of Uzhhorod to Soviet rule 99
The structure of the Greek Catholic Church in Transcarpathia
during the Soviet era 107
The post-Soviet period 116Liturgical practice 124
The Virgin Mary at Dzhublyk and the Ukrainian Question 128
Concluding Remarks 138

CHAPTER 4
Authority of the Priests
Priests and their Relations with the Laity in Transcarpathia 152
Who’s in charge? 155
The effects of the work of underground Greek Catholic priests
during the Soviet Era 158
Dzhublyk and the underground priests 170
The economic and legal basis of parish life 172
Clerical Strategies of Negotiation over Authority and its Legitimation 180
Networking as a member of the local elite 185
Withdrawal—remaining aloof 189
Caring for the flock and deepening the faith 192
Charisma—freeing the people from suffering 196
Fear of black prayer 200
Concluding Remarks 201

CHAPTER 5
Call for Unity and Management of “Divergent Devotions”
Dzhublyk and Nyzhnie Bolotne Parish 214
The Practice of the Psaltyr 221
From Community Cult to Religious Network:
Dzhublyk and Mothers’ Prayers 226
Breaking up the Orthodox Imaginary 232
The Know-How of Religious Life 250
Marian Apparitions as Divergent Devotions? 258

CHAPTER 6
Conclusion: Marian Apparitions as Sites of Transformation

Bibliography 277
Index 301

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