Kalkun, Kupari, and Vuola, “Coping with Loss of Homeland through Orthodox Christian Processions”

Kalkun, Andreas, Kupari, Helena, and Vuola, Elina. 2018. “Coping with Loss of Homeland through Orthodox Christian Processions: Contemporary Practices among Setos, Karelians, and Skolt Sámi in Estonia and Finland.” Practical Matters Journal. 11. 

Abstract: In this article, we focus on the coping, healing, and commemorative aspects of religious rituals, discussing three annual religious feasts that also have significance as expressions of ethnic culture. They are the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God of the PskovoPechersky Monastery, the Saarivaara Chapel temple feast in North Karelia, and the pilgrimage of Saint Tryphon in Finnish Lapland. All take the form of Orthodox Christian processions or pilgrimages and are situated in symbolically significant landscape in the historical home area of minority groups – Setos, (Border) Karelians, and Skolt Sámi. The article relies first and foremost on research material gathered through participant observation in these three religious feasts. We are interested in how the Orthodox religion, through the processions and pilgrimages that are our focus, functions as a coping mechanism for the loss of homeland and other traumas related to changing national borders. The issues of loss and trauma are present in all our case studies. The three religious feasts express hardships related to (forced) migration and minority identity in concrete and visible ways. Our analysis demonstrates that the Orthodox religion continues to function as an important source of ethno-religious identity among Setos, Karelians, and Skolt Sámi. All three feasts take place in symbolically significant locations and help members of these minority groups reconcile the traumatic events of their past with the present-day situation. In all three processions national and ethnic identity is emphasized through concrete means. These include traditional clothes, food, objects, and customs, use of the local language and colloquialisms, non-religious ethnically inspired program, and the presence of respected elders. Through these markers, the groups assign special meanings to the rituals, asserting their identities. Ultimately, these practices are precisely what turn the feasts into manifestations of Seto, Karelian, or Skolt Sámi Orthodoxy.

Kupari, “Lifelong minority religion: routines and reflexivity: A Bourdieuan perspective on the habitus of elderly Finnish Orthodox Christian women”

Kupari, Helena. 2015.Lifelong minority religion: routines and reflexivity: A Bourdieuan perspective on the habitus of elderly Finnish Orthodox Christian women. Religion DOI:10.1080/0048721X.2015.1104397

Abstract: Applications of the concept of habitus to research on religion have increased in recent decades. At present, Pierre Bourdieu’s interpretation of the concept is perhaps the most well known. Nevertheless, it has also met with criticism. This article utilizes Bourdieuan theorizations to discuss the habitus of elderly Finnish Orthodox Christian women. The author examines the women’s dispositions in relation to their changing minority position within Finnish society, and identifies the dynamic between reflexivity and routine practice as being central to their religion. The analysis demonstrates the value of Bourdieu’s understanding of habitus when studying the long-term effects of social power on subjectivity – as reflected, for instance, in lifelong minority religion. The author argues, moreover, that contrary to the claims of many critics, Bourdieu’s approach is suitable for inquiries into the conscious dimensions of practicing, in so far as these are conceived of as grounded in individuals’ past and present conditions of religious practice.