“And the Archangel Michael looked just like me!”: Visual Media and the Re-presentation of Divinity in Moldovan Radical Religion

Contesting Authority - Vernacular Knowledge and Alternative Beliefs - Marion Bowman

James Kapaló [+-]
James Kapaló is Lecturer in the Study of Religions at University College Cork, Ireland. He completed a PhD in the Study of Religions at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, and is the author of Text, Context and Performance: Gagauz Folk Religion in Discourse and Practice (Brill, 2011). His current research interests include contemporary orthodoxy, the academic discourse on "folk religion" and archaic forms of Christian prayer.

Description

This paper explores the power of the visual to contest and subvert dominant religious beliefs and doctrines. Through an exploration of Inochentism and Archangelism, ‘home-grown’ religious movements in twentieth and twenty first century Moldova, I trace the power of visual media, when combined with folk narratives, prophesy and visionary literature, to contest state and church authority, embody the sacred and transform belief. The two movements discussed, driven underground by nationalist and communist regimes in Romania and Soviet Moldova, deployed visual media in the form of vernacular icons, photographs and photomontages, as powerful tools for critique and as a means of mobilizing belief during periods of intense persecution by the state. Based on a series of interviews with members of these movements between 2011 and 2014, on secret police archival sources and on Soviet propaganda publications, I examine how, under the pressure of state atheist ideology and political oppression, relations between divine and human, this world and the next, and the material and immaterial were re-imagined, re-presented and embodied by Moldovan village people.

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Citation

Kapaló, James. “And the Archangel Michael looked just like me!”: Visual Media and the Re-presentation of Divinity in Moldovan Radical Religion. Contesting Authority - Vernacular Knowledge and Alternative Beliefs. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Oct 2020. ISBN 9781781792377. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=29211. Date accessed: 19 Sep 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.29211. Oct 2020

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