Mario Katić, Assistant Professor, Department of Ethnology and Anthropology, University of Zadar (Croatia)

Maritime Pilgrimages as an Insight into Maritime Way of Living

Maritime Pilgrimages are ritualistic practise that include boat travel for persons or icons as part of the actual ritual structure.  Translocation of the sacred object and/or people also includes processing towards or over the sea to a location that has historical and/or folkloric connection with the object or the place of the pilgrimage.  These sites of pilgrimages were, and are, the safest place for the fishermen and travellers to retreat when hit by a sudden stormy weather. The sacred merges with the profane in the lives of local fishermen who, in their daily fishing routine, passed near locations of the saints, and ask for their blessings and help in fishing and safe return to harbour. Maritime pilgrimages resemble sacralize the mariners and the sea. This form of pilgrimage emerges in specific geographical contexts where the population is oriented towards the sea where the basic resources and determinants of the local everyday life, economics, culture and religion are found. Maritime pilgrimages are about interplay between mariner’s religious beliefs, changes of everyday life, tourism, heritage, migrations, but also in some cases national identity, political economy, and institutionalization and heritagization of the practices and sites.

So the effort to interpret them should also be likewise directed towards to role of the sea and seascape in forming and framing myriad cultural practices. The concept of maritime pilgrimages is employed as an etic analytic framework through which I observe different pilgrimages. For the interlocutors and the participants these are just pilgrimages but from outsiders’ point of view, these are pilgrimages framed, formed, and created in strict connection to the seascape and maritime way of living. This lecture will be based on research of case studies from Ireland and Croatia.

Mario Katić is Assistant Professor at the University of Zadar, Department of Ethnology and Anthropology. His main areas of interest are pilgrimage, folklore and death studies, urban anthropology and methodology of research. He is co-editor of Military Pilgrimage and Battlefield Tourism: Commemorating the Dead (Routledge, 2017), Pilgrimage, Politics and Place-Making in Eastern Europe (Routledge, 2014), Pilgrimage and Sacred Places in Southeast Europe: History, Religious Tourism and Contemporary Trends (Lit Verlag, 2014) and author of Death in Dalmatian Hinterland: Mirila from Ritual to Theatre (Naklada Ljevak, 2017).

All seminars in the series.