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Vernacular religion on the boundary of Eastern and Western Christianity: continuity, changes and interactions (EAST-WEST)
Start date: Sep 1, 2013, End date: Aug 31, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This interdisciplinary research project, relying on mutually complementary historical, anthropological and folklore investigations, will examine continuities and transformations in vernacular religion in the border-zone between Eastern and Western Christianity. The project will have three foci: 1) the role of the religious worldview and norms in past and present communities; 2) change and religious modernisation including the intertwining of the breaking up of the traditional worldview and the appearance of consumer-type attitudes of New Age religiosity; 3) the role of religion in identity formation and the emergence of religious pluralism and co-operation as well as of religious antagonism and conflict between different denominations and nationalities in the region. Members of the project will study these questions in Hungarian, Romanian, Serbian, Ukrainian and Croatian communities of mixed religion. Thematically the research will be organised around exploring symbolic exchange relationships (demonology and witchcraft) sacred communication (shrines, visions, miracles, saints) and healing using both historical sources and contemporary anthropological field work.The project builds on two previous long-term historical/folkloristic research projects led by PI Éva Pócs and will expand and complement their findings through contemporary anthropological field research and continued archival work. Integrating the results of the current and earlier projects through an innovative electronic document collection, embedded in a geographical information system, will enhance the impact of both sets of materials.The research will bring us closer to understanding a) inter-religious relationships between Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox believers, b) problems of national identity underlying religious antagonisms, and c) how religious and cultural border zones separate and unite, generate conflict and create mutual understanding, potentially promoting peaceful co-existence.
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