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Becoming Orthodox: Of People and Things in the Making of Religious Subjects

Carroll, Timothy Andrew; (2015) Becoming Orthodox: Of People and Things in the Making of Religious Subjects. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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This thesis investigates the uses and purposes of material culture in Orthodox Christian worship. It is based primarily in an Antiochian Orthodox Parish in London, England, but follows pathways of engagement and movement across a wide area. Taking the material praxis of Eastern Orthodox Christians as its central focus, the thesis examines how various materials interact within the ritual and quotidian lives of Orthodox practitioners. The argument here advanced is that Orthodox Christians, within the wide milieu of materials and substances with which they engage, optimise indexical qualities inherent in the materials in an art-like production of themselves. Of particular importance within the wider set of sacred materials are a number of specific items of fabric. The thesis engages the materiality of fabric in and outside explicitly religious settings. Following critical literature, this thesis understands the liturgical vestments of Orthodox priests to make the priest into an embodied ikon of Christ. Drawing on ethnographic research, however, the thesis pushes past this initial understanding, exploring how such transformations are accomplished and what they do socio-culturally. It is argued that the process of becoming, wherein the Orthodox subject makes use of the transformative impact of the indexical qualities of fabric, is not something pertaining to clergy alone. Rituals such as Baptism offer a clear example of how multiple domains of materials are engaged in order to accomplish a transformation of the religious subject. Such situations allow for the examination of diverse social genre, as they are navigated and transformed through material enactments in ritual space. The thesis takes the praxis of such transformation within the context of the continuity of Orthodox religiosity. In a religious tradition characterised by repetition, continuity, and sensuous tactility, this thesis argues that material objects are necessary for the continual production of Orthodox Christians as artlike subjects.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Becoming Orthodox: Of People and Things in the Making of Religious Subjects
Language: English
Keywords: Orthodox Christian, Material, Becoming, Fabric
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1462579
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