Pilgrimages can tentatively be described as journeys undertaken by individuals or groups to a place, which for the persons involved in the journey is of great importance; either for religious or spiritual reasons or for reasons pertaining to other aspects of the person’s history, cultural milieu and social situation. The current volume does not limit the theme of pilgrimages to conventional or traditional religious journeys, but aims at exploring the wider field of travelling akin to pilgrimages in our contemporary culture to shed light upon similarities as well as differences in motivations, practices and perspectives.

The volume presents a number of theoretical analyses of pilgrimages as a phenomenon of the twenty-first century, but also several rich and intriguing accounts based on ethnographic work. The themes range from traditional and collective pilgrimages within the world religions – such as the Orthodox Christian tradition of visiting Mount Athos or the Muslim festival Biswa Ijtema in Bangladesh – to more contemporary and individualistic pilgrimages. Examples of this latter category are e.g. the memorial practices connected to late Lady Diana Spencer, Dracula tourism and motorcycle pilgrimages.

Published: 2010-01-01

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