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date: 24 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the resurgence and growing interest in Mary and her veneration in the contemporary Eastern Mediterranean, a prominently Muslim dominated region. Mary as a figure of devotion is unique in this region for three reasons. First, Mary is an autochthonous figure in the region. Second, Christianity in the region has a unique history, especially under the influences of the Ottoman rule and European imperialism. Third, there are the contemporary impacts of nationalism, post-colonialism, and the Arabization of the Christian communities therein. Against these developments, nowadays Mary’s places of veneration, both old and new, are attracting growing numbers of pilgrims. As I will show from ethnographies conducted in the region and my own work on Mary’s tomb in Jerusalem, Mary serves as a powerful symbol/metaphor/icon that is used by minorities to create and invigorate Christian identity.

Keywords: Anthropology, politics of religion, Marian veneration, rituals, processions, pilgrimage, icons, Mediterranean religion, sacred places, landscape

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