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Apophatic love, contagion, and surveillance: Orthodox Christian responses to the global pandemic

Carroll, Timothy; Lackenby, Nicholas; Gorbanenko, Jenia; (2022) Apophatic love, contagion, and surveillance: Orthodox Christian responses to the global pandemic. Anthropology and Medicine , 29 (4) pp. 430-445. 10.1080/13648470.2022.2080180. Green open access

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Abstract

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Orthodox Christians globally reacted to the possibility of contagion and risk in dialogue with theological positions about materials, their own long history which includes surviving previous pandemics and plagues, governmental and civil expectations and edicts, and pious - but often unofficial - understandings about protection and the sacrality of religious artefacts and the space of the temple. This article draws upon primary ethnographic research amongst Orthodox Christians in the UK, Serbia, Greece and Russia, as well as news articles about and primary ecclesiastical documents from Orthodox Churches more widely, to highlight commonalities and divergences in Orthodox Christian responses to the pandemic. Examining both the theological basis, and socio-political differences, this article considers how the Orthodox theology of apophaticism and relationality impacts wider discourses of contagion (both positive and negative), and consequently compliance with public health initiatives. Comparison across diverse Orthodox settings suggests that Orthodox Christians are concerned with the neighbour - both in terms of who may be watching (and reporting) them, and who may fall sick because of them.

Type: Article
Title: Apophatic love, contagion, and surveillance: Orthodox Christian responses to the global pandemic
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/13648470.2022.2080180
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/13648470.2022.2080180
Language: English
Additional information: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: COVID-19, Orthodox Christian, apophatic, contagion
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10153780
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