Negotiating Marian Apparitions

The Politics of Religion in Transcarpathian Ukraine
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328 pages,19 photo

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.

List of maps and photographs
Note on transliteration

Chapter 1 Introduction
Religious Experiences, Institutions, and Organizations
Religious Organizations in (Post)socialism
Field Research
Structure of the Book

Chapter 2 Apparitions at Dzhublyk and Modern Apparitional Patterns
The Site
The Visionaries and the Managers
The Messages and The Visions
The Networks of Support and Transnational Connections
The Crisis Conditions
Organizational Embracement/Rejection
Concluding Remarks

Chapter 3 Nation and Church in Transcarpathia
Transcarpathia in Today’s Ukraine
A Sui Iuris Eparchy within Present-Day Ukraine: A Brief History
A strong eparchy with an ambiguous status: from the Union of Uzhhorod to Soviet rule
The structure of the Greek Catholic Church in Transcarpathia during the Soviet era
The post-Soviet period
Liturgical Language
The Virgin Mary in Dzhublyk and the Ukrainian question
Concluding Remarks

Chapter 4 Authority of the Priests
Priests and their Relations with the Laity in Transcarpathia
Who’s in charge
The effects of the work of underground Greek Catholic priests during the Soviet era
Dzhublyk and the underground priests
The economic and legal basis of parish life
Clerical Strategies of Negotiation over Authority and its Legitimation
Networking as a member of the local elite
Withdrawal―remaining aloof
Caring for the flock and deepening the faith
Charisma―freeing the people from suffering
Fear of black prayer
Concluding Remarks

Chapter 5 Call for Unity and Management of “Divergent Devotions”
Dzhublyk and Nizhnie Bolotne Parish
The Practice of the Psaltyr
From Community Cult to Religious Network: Dzhublyk and Mothers’ Prayers
Breaking up the Orthodox Imaginary
The Know-how of Religious Life
Marian Apparitions as Divergent Devotions?

Chapter 6 Conclusions


"The book contains a wealth of data gathered through ethnographic fieldwork conducted in different villages and towns of Transcarpathia’s Irshava District and/or Deanery. Fieldwork consisted of interviews with the Irshava Deanery’s Greek Catholic priests, with ‘members of church councils’ of the region’s villages and with parishioners as well as archival research and observation of pilgrimages organised by Transcarpathians, ceremonies commemorating the apparitions of Dzhublyk and various events that were organised in the region by the authorities of the eparchy (27–28). It will be of interest to anthropologists and historians working on the region and/or on pilgrimage and religion (Eastern Christianity in particular) and in postcommunist societies and beyond."
"Агнешка Халемба берет интервью и работает как этнограф c официальными представителями религиозной организации. Этого требует от нее сам полевой материал, поскольку признание факта видений католической церковью в значительной степени зависит от бюрократической, публикационной, организационной деятельности местных клириков. В результате интенсивной этнографической и архивной работы Халемба обнаруживает различия в способах построения отношений между прихожанами и священниками в том приходе, где священник в советское время формально перешел в православие вместе со своей общиной, и там, где были активны подпольные грекокатолические священники, а настоятель храма, также присоединившийся к православной церкви, при-езжал только для совершения праздничных служб. Этнография религиозных организаций необходима для их демистификации. Полезным для тех, кто отважится пойти по предложенному в книге пути этнографического исследования организации через длительное наблюдение за ее жизнью и... more
"The subject of Marian apparitions has long preoccupied scholars of religion, providing fertile ground for discussions of individual and collective aspects of Christian—both Catholic and Orthodox—religiosity. Agnieszka Halemba’s monograph is a perfect example of what ethnographic study of the development of a Marian cult can bring, yet it also goes well beyond it, demonstrating that the issue of apparitions is a great point of departure, or a provocation, for exploration of much broader themes. If her book is going to be included in university syllabi—and I certainly hope it is—it will achieve that thanks to Halemba’s astute engagement with a series of themes that lie at the heart of current debates on religion: those regarding the value of cognitive approaches, new forms of spirituality, transnational religious networks, and, most of all, the question of religious organization(s)."
“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.”