Pilgrimage, material objects and spontaneous communitas

Higgins, Leighanne and Hamilton, Kathy (2020) Pilgrimage, material objects and spontaneous communitas. Annals of Tourism Research, 81. 102855. ISSN 0160-7383

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    Abstract

    Based on an ethnographic study of Lourdes, we contribute to tourism discussion on religious pilgrimage and communitas. Taking a material perspective, we prioritise spontaneous over normative communitas, and materiality over intangibility. We adopt the lens of tangible communitas to unpack the role of material objects in extending communitas beyond the spatial confines of the pilgrimage site. We explore how spontaneous communitas manifests in the material objects brought home from and left behind at the pilgrimage site. This reveals the portability of communitas and how it can be de-coupled from liminality and experienced in normative structure. The paper's focus on religious materiality also offers a renewed understanding of the extra-discursive importance of religious kitsch materiality.