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Experience and expectation – interpreting religious experience narratives / Hrvoje Čargonja.

By: Čargonja, Hrvoje.
Material type: ArticleArticle In: Crisis and imagination, EASA (European Association of Social Anthropologists) 11th biennial conference: Maynooth, Ireland, 24-27th August 2010Summary: In my presentation I would like to discuss a possibility for an interpretational model of the narratives of religious experience based on my ethnographic research of religious experience within Hare Krishna movement conducted in India, Croatia and Great Britain as a part of my ongoing PhD project. I have identified episodic, sequential and habitual types of narratives of miraculous events in personal lives of devotees which confirm the continuum of pre-objective and objective experience (Csordas, Throope) and demonstrate the role of memory as intermediate buffer between experiencing and narrative. With notions of Ricoeur’s views on memory and by using terms like “space of experience” and “horizons of expectation” borrowed from Reinhardt Koselleck I will attempt to show how communal dynamics of personal, scriptural and hagiographic stories of experience together with specific rhetoric of expectation, focuses expectation and plays a crucial role in the process of the experiencing itself. Expectation derived from cultural religious bedding stimulates and shapes the direct experience, with meaning conveyed through individual, social and political “bodies”. Thus experiencing and expectation reinforce each other and accommodate for both individual agency and cultural conditioning of the experience.
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In my presentation I would like to discuss a possibility for an interpretational model of the narratives of religious experience based on my ethnographic research of religious experience within Hare Krishna movement conducted in India, Croatia and Great Britain as a part of my ongoing PhD project. I have identified episodic, sequential and habitual types of narratives of miraculous events in personal lives of devotees which confirm the continuum of pre-objective and objective experience (Csordas, Throope) and demonstrate the role of memory as intermediate buffer between experiencing and narrative. With notions of Ricoeur’s views on memory and by using terms like “space of experience” and “horizons of expectation” borrowed from Reinhardt Koselleck I will attempt to show how communal dynamics of personal, scriptural and hagiographic stories of experience together with specific rhetoric of expectation, focuses expectation and plays a crucial role in the process of the experiencing itself. Expectation derived from cultural religious bedding stimulates and shapes the direct experience, with meaning conveyed through individual, social and political “bodies”. Thus experiencing and expectation reinforce each other and accommodate for both individual agency and cultural conditioning of the experience.

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