9. Multiple Magdalenas: Locative and Utopian Orientations in an Indigenous Community Divided by an International Border

Thinking with J. Z. Smith - Mapping Methods in the Study of Religion - Barbara Krawcowicz

Seth Schermerhorn [+-]
Hamilton College
Seth Schermerhorn is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and the Director of the American Studies Program at Hamilton College in traditional Oneida territory. He is the author of Walking to Magdalena: Personhood and Place in Tohono O'odham Songs, Sticks, and Stories (co-published by the University of Nebraska Press and the American Philosophical Society, 2019).

Description

Seth Schermerhorn tests the adequacy and applicability of J. Z. Smith’s thoughts on locative and utopian spatial orientations as well as religion(s) of “here,” “there” and “anywhere” in the context of his ethnographic study of contemporary O’odham Catholics and their travels to Magdalena, Sonora, Mexico to visit Saint Francis. These pilgrimages seem to suggest that O’odham could be described as operating within the “locative” spatial orientation with a clearly defined “sacred” center. Things are, however, more complex. It is not only that there are no fewer than four rival destinations for O’odham to travel to in addition to, or in lieu of, traveling to Magdalena, each with its own Saint Francis, there is also a movable feast of Saint Francis that travels each year across the eleven districts of the nation. In a strong statement about the importance of the emic perspective, Schermerhorn points out that in their own thinking about the multiple Magdalenas, O’odham easily “alternate between ‘locative’ and ‘utopian’ orientations, variously emphasizing and deemphasizing place” suggesting both the limitations of Smith’s early and the usefulness of his later topographic thought.

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Citation

Schermerhorn, Seth. 9. Multiple Magdalenas: Locative and Utopian Orientations in an Indigenous Community Divided by an International Border. Thinking with J. Z. Smith - Mapping Methods in the Study of Religion. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Oct 2023. ISBN 9781781799840. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=39933. Date accessed: 26 Nov 2022 doi: 10.1558/equinox.39933. Oct 2023

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