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“I Was Not Willing to Risk my Hajj”

Information Coping Strategies of Hajj Pilgrims

Nadia Caidi

Abstract

Information phenomena and behaviors underlie every aspect of contemporary life, including spiritual/religious experiences. Pilgrimage as an information context provides insights into the nature of information and knowledge in the lives of individuals undergoing such transformational experiences. Findings based on interviews with twelve Hajj pilgrims suggest that their information practices are varied and transcend both individual (cognitive, affective) and social processes (through shared imaginaries and a wide network of people and resources). As pilgrims prepare for and complete the rituals, then return home, they make use of a range of coping strategies from triangulation and validation to information avoidance. Examining the information strategies of Hajj pilgrims provide us with insights into their processes of negotiating meaning in shifting and unknown contexts.

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Introduction

Knowledge, Ignorance, and Pilgrimage

Evgenia Mesaritou, Simon Coleman, and John Eade

Abstract

This special issue on “Knowledge, Ignorance, and Pilgrimage” highlights processes of production of knowledge and ignorance that unfold within as well as beyond pilgrimage sites. We illustrate the labor, politics, and power relations involved in the construction of sacred centers, but also the ways in which the field of study must be extended to other places where pilgrims learn to practice their religion, and live their everyday lives.

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Jackie Feldman

Abstract

Two themes that surface in the articles in this collection are: Visual knowledge and the means of acquiring it—the ability of pilgrims to see and read signs while overlooking or avoiding other sources of knowledge that are visible or readily available; and the issue of authority: who propagates and gains from the teaching, images, and practices of pilgrimage?

The articles demonstrate that distance from pilgrimage sites and ignorance of local knowledge is important in intensifying pilgrims’ experience and maintaining the power of traditional authorities. While some shrines readily adopt new technologies to diffuse their messages, activities and images, pilgrimages continue to rely on embodiment and sociality to solidify communities and commitments. The variety of engagements of pilgrimages with changing media and emerging historical realities testifies to the viability of the forms and practices of pilgrimage in transmitting other kinds of knowledge.

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Materiality as an Agency of Knowledge

Competing Forms of Knowledge in Rachel's Tomb in Tiberias

Nimrod Luz

Abstract

Materiality has become a compelling register through which to examine religious manifestations and matters of belief. There is a mounting awareness among scholars of both the tangible aspects of religion and the ways in which material objects are never neutral. Following these theoretical developments, I argue that materiality can serve as a form of agency for a particular version of knowledge to become conventional and accepted as true. This emerging materiality codifies a certain version of the truth. However, such validation through matter is often challenged and categorized as fake or a myth. To illustrate my argument, I explore the newly emerging site of Rachel's Tomb in Tiberias and the competing versions of truth surrounding it. I contend that its new materiality, which has evolved in recent years, serves as a way of validating the site's new mythology. However, among locals, who are familiar with the site's previous materiality, this new knowledge is pejoratively labeled as fake or mythical.

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Non “Religious” Knowing in Pilgrimages to Sacred Sites

Greek Cypriots’ “return” Pilgrimages to the Monastery of Apostolos Andreas (Cyprus)

Evgenia Mesaritou

Abstract

Even though pilgrimages may often be directed toward what can conventionally be seen as “religious” sacred sites, religious and ritual forms of knowledge and ignorance may not necessarily be the only, or even the most prominent, forms in their workings. Focusing on Greek Cypriots’ return pilgrimages to the Christian-Orthodox monastery of Apostolos Andreas (Karpasia) under the conditions of Cyprus's ongoing division, in this article I explore the non “religious” forms of knowing and ignoring salient to pilgrimages to sacred religious sites, the conditions under which they become relevant, and the risks associated with them. Showing how pilgrimages to the monastery of Apostolos Andreas are situated within a larger framework of seeing “our places,” I will argue that remembering and knowing these places is the type of knowledge most commonly sought out by pilgrims, while also exploring what the stakes of not knowing/forgetting them may be felt to be. An exclusive focus on “religious” forms of knowledge and ignorance would obscure the ways in which pilgrimage is often embedded in everyday social and political concerns.

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“Welcome to Divinity College”

Subjectification in Pilgrimage to the Iran-Iraq War Battlefields in Contemporary Iran

Mahshid Zandi

Abstract

“Welcome to Divinity College,” reads a welcome sign to the state-sponsored fieldtrips of the Iran-Iraq War (1980–1988) battlefields in Iran. Rahian-e Noor battlefield tours follow the model of Shia pilgrimage and commemorative rituals, while also tapping into nationalist discourses of the country as an ancient homeland. I ask whether these trips are a means of disseminating knowledge, and what forms of ignorance are assumed to prevail among the visitors that this “Divinity College” seeks to eliminate? Even more importantly, since the tours are state-sponsored, what ignorances are rendered possible, if not encouraged, at the cost of this selective knowledge dissemination? Drawing on fieldwork, I argue that the tours provide a space of encounter with what is presupposed as the visitors’ already acquired knowledge. On RN tours, both knowledge and ignorance are co-constitutive of the transformative power of pilgrimage, where ultimate knowledge is interpreted as putting the already-known-words into deeds.

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John Eade

Abstract

This article focuses primarily on the role of the camera in representing the famous, much visited Roman Catholic shrine of Lourdes, France, and what this role tells us about the relationship between gazing, knowledge, and the body. After outlining the historical development of the shrine, the discussion proceeds to consider the growth of popular media and the cinematic gaze, the expansion of tourism, debates concerning the morality of gazing at bodies as personal cameras and smartphones becoming increasingly available and used at the shrine, the representation of human and saintly bodies, and the part played by the camera in the attempt to ensure security.

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James Nguyen

I first encountered Ai Weiwei’s Law of the Journey as an amalgam of Instagram tiles (see photos on following page). The imposing sixty-meter-long rubber lifeboat—filled with faceless rubber bodies—was reduced to a scrollable algorithm. Posted across multiple time zones and geotagged in places like the Prague National Gallery to the most recent incarnation on Cockatoo Island (a decommissioned shipyard on Sydney harbor), Law of the Journey enjoyed much better travel rights and Visa entitlements than the actual refugees it depicted. While beyond the control of the artist or exhibiting venues, the mobility of images of Law of the Journey nonetheless made me think about the representations of refugees and border violence within the global art circuit.

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Nicholas Ferns, David Farley, Sue Beeton, Paula Mota Santos, and Rachel Luchmun

Carla Manfredi. Robert Louis Stevenson’s Pacific Impressions: Photography and Travel Writing, 1888–1894 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 256 pp., ISBN: 978-3-319-98312-7, €69.99 (hardcover).

Richard Ivan Jobs. Backpack Ambassadors: How Youth Travel Integrated Europe (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017) 360pp, ISBN-13: 978-0-226-46203-5, $35.00 (paper).

Youngmin Choe. Tourist Distractions: Travelling and Feeling in Transnational Hallyu Cinema (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2016), xii + 252pp., ISBN-978-0-8223-6130-5, $60.99 (pbk).

Valerio Simoni. Tourism and Informal Encounters in Cuba (Oxford; Berghahn, 2016), 282+xvi pp, ISBN 978-1-78533-833-5, $27.95 (paperback).

Sabine Marschall. Tourism and Memories of Home: Migrants, Displaced People, Exiles and Diasporic Communities (Bristol: Channel View Publications, 2017), xv + 288 pp., ISBN 13: 978-1-84541-602-7, $49.95 (paperback).

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Dr. Dolittle, I Presume

A Reflection on the Reputation of Richard Lynch Garner

Felipe Fernández-Armesto

Richard Lynch Garner’s is a curious case in the history of the fragility of fame. Born in 1848, the explorer, zoologist, specimen hunter, and pioneer in linguistics, animal ethics, and primatology inspired at least one fictional character: the mysterious, offstage Dr. Johausen, the ape fancier who disappears from his jungle hide in Jules Verne’s missing-link fantasy Le Village aérien (Radick 2007: 124). If, as I presume for reasons that will become clear, Garner may also have contributed to the making of Hugh Lofting’s imperishable hero, Dr. Dolittle, it is perhaps surprising that no literary researcher, as far as I know, has ever undertaken to study him. For a brief spell in the early 1890s, around the time of a then-renowned (and soon to be notorious) expedition that he undertook to Fernan Vaz in French Gabon, Garner was one of the most celebrated men in the world—such that satirists had only to allude to him in the certainty that readers would know whom they meant (Radick 2007: 84–85, 123, 136–137). Yet he died in poverty in 1920 (at about the time of the publication of the first Dolittle book).