One of the major paradoxes embedded in religion is the complex dynamics between enchantment and disenchantment. This article takes a critical look at the theoretical implications of the political dynamics of enchantment by examining its stages in depth. We use the term ‘enchanted moments of place’ to challenge the use of the term ‘enchanted’ as a static historical or historiographical designation. It takes long-term ethnographic work at a recently emerging pilgrimage site in the north of Israel/Palestine commonly known as the Shrine of Mariam Bawardy, as an empirical point of departure to explore the dynamics of enchantment. We suggest an anthropological theory of enchantment that embraces an analysis of the ways time/place intermingles religious and everyday grassroots political dynamics. This perspective sheds light on the creation of sacred place during moments of renewed creativity, the reformulation of indigenous identities, the process of reinvented rituals, and the restoration and staging of material objects and place. Uncovering these moments can clarify the ways sacred places are politically voiced and spatialized by pilgrims, and appropriated by visitors and religious agents. Our analysis shows that these ‘enchanted moments’, places are more fragile and susceptible to changes caused by macro- and micro- political shifts. Enchanted moments are more sensitive to local decision-making processes, creativity, contingencies and rivalry among native agents and their aspirations for place and territoriality.
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- Anthropology of religion
- Mariam Bawardy
- Marian veneration
- anthropology and history
- religion and modernity
- sacred places