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Giuseppe Tateo Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology PhD Candidate

Geertz 1988:88 tra dettagli locali e strutture globali


Caglar / Glick Schiller

2 The postsecular city, by contrast to the utopian liberal uplift of the secular city (in
which the role of the church and theology is to act as force of social progressive
change and a cultural exorciser against all oppressive practices which reinforce
hierarchies of power and dependency), reflects a more contested space where hitherto
distinct categories are increasingly converging within a postmetaphysical composite.
In the postsecular city, the dividing lines (and hence) roles of religion and science,
faith and reason, tradition a nd innovation are no l onger rigidly enforced (or indeed
enforcible), and new relations of possibility are emerging. The secular city has never
existed. At least, not in Romania.

3 If we consider postsecular as the indication of diverse religious, humanist and

secularist positionalities and not merely an assumption of complete and total
secularization it is precisely the relations between these dimensions and not just the
religious that are taken into account and [are] the focus of attention. Than the label
you chose is unfortunate.

4 First, the re-emergence of the idea of the sacred as applied to the advancement of
urban space and community development; second, the nature of the urban
(postcolonial diversity/ plurality and global hub) as the locus in which the dynamics of
religiosecular change are revealed and expressed with greatest intensity, if not always
the greatest clarity; third, the return of the language of virtue in respect of public life/
civil society and the search for mutual understandings of the common good between
religions and secularism; fourth, the ongoing commitment to social and urban justice
on the part of religious organizations and traditions for example, the Catholic social
movement and its roots in such diverse movements as the worker priest movement in
France, democratic movements in Eastern Europe and liberation theologies in Latin
and South America and beyond; fifth, the connection between the growth of
Giuseppe Tateo Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology PhD Candidate

Pentecostal Christianity and neoliberal globalization, as well as evangelism and social

justice within the most excluded and diasporic urban communities; sixth, the re-
engagement of faith and politics, especially in the contentious areas of governance
and public s ervice d elivery; and f inally, the contested understanding of
multiculturalism under the impact of recent highprofile cases of religious freedom of
expression in relation to human rights legislation and the rise of Islamophobia.

5 Public resurgence of religion Casanova 1990 (But is it enough to justify the post-
secular label?)
Berger 1999 Desecularization (exponential growth of furoius, supernaturalist,
conservative and fundamentalist denominations to detriment of more liberal or
mainstream ones).
Growing resurgence of faith and spirituality in the urban public realm since the start
of the twenty-first century.
Habermas: the vigorous continuation of religion in a continually secularizing

82 re spiritualizing of the urban space (cfr re-sacralization Denes Kiss)
Novac asks whether Bucharest could be considered a post-secular city, after the new
cathedral will be erected. He admits that this project would not mark by itslef the
transition to post-secularity, but he ackowledges that the construction of the national
cathedral pushes Bucharest toward this direction. Moreover, the religious aspect is
only one among many others in regard of the national cathedral.

+ Gronhaug + Tsing (in HyllandEriksen) +

CMNR through different scales instead of some people studied according to
their different roles/status (Gronhaug in Hylland Eriksen 2015: 134) -> Scale in
a social system, part-system or field refers to the number of statuses that are
required for the system to be maintained. In other words, it refers to
complexity. Seen from an actors perspective, scale indicates how far you can
reach in your operative networks and connections. We all participate in
systems at varying levels of scale, unless we are pre-mining Baktaman
Giuseppe Tateo Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology PhD Candidate

Construct the whole theoretical part about SH; scalar holism, that is, for
a dynamic constitution of actions and reactions within the public
space/the urban space at different scales.
Consider pilgrimages and processions as space-marking strategies from
the ROC as public religion;
bridging theoretical framing that connects the case to the larger and
much more abstract
Elaborate this notion of re-consecration that seems to imply both
ideological and performative dimensions, historical/temporal
(communism) and spatial/material significance.
What kind of anticlericalism are we talking about? (Consider
Performative Anticlericalism by expanding it ethnographically ->
Pamphlets, Performances, Boos, Slogans, + explain the VSNC action);
Track changes
Check English and send to Lucian
By re-consecration I mean every intervention conducted in a public space with
the purpose of giving new significance

Image 1 Writings on the window of a shop of Orthodox articles in Bucharest. The writings go:
We want hospitals, not cathedrals and Are you happy, preafericitule 1?

1 Preafericit (His Beatitude) is the title of the Romanian Orthodox Patriarch. Its literal
translation would be too much happy.
Giuseppe Tateo Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology PhD Candidate

In fact, while during communist rule the ROC played the role of the
privileged servant (Stan and Turcescu 2007: 7), the current Church-state
relationships in Romania (like in other Orthodox countries, as the authors
suggest) have been interpreted as representing a form of partnership (Stan
and Turcescu 2012). This change would have been favoured by the chronic
political instability affecting the post-socialist restructuring:

Faced with weak post-communist states unable to deliver the most basic common
goods, discredited communist political elites and disorganized opposition groups looking
for a renewed political message, and powerful competition from Western-based religious
groups coming into the country, Eastern European denominations understood that major
gains can be obtained not by opposing but by collaborating with and manipulating the
state apparatus (2007: 10).

I tried to face the explanandum (anti-clerical discourse in Bucharest) by

looking at the strategy of presence/absence of the ROC in the Bucharests
townscape and public milieu. To make sense of this strategy, I elaborated the
concept of institutional revival, in order to clarify that current sentiments of
uneasiness towards Church representors are not

By means of this paper, I aim to tackle some analytical constraints I have to

grapple with in Bucharest, at a time when its urban canvas is on the way of re-
consecration after the defilement represented by the Communist regime.

Grounding BtH in the urban studies literature: Low 1999:112-3 spatial

meanings of power relations [] symbolic mapping of contested arenas []
Giuseppe Tateo Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology PhD Candidate

+ Harvey 1985, 1990

To sum up, one thing is to acknowledge the arbitrary element as part of every
ethnographic research, quite another to renounce in its name to any
explanatory duty.

Multi-scaled =/ Multi-sited.

Our fields are indeed windows onto complexity (Candea 2007: 167)

But if holism is not anymore about wholes, why should we maintain the term?
Because of a kind of family resemblance, according to whom

-> watch out from lipogrammatic tendencies (remember candea merits)

-> watch out from flattening temptations.
-> Process of re-consecration after Communist defilement.
-> Reflection of the high church building rates in the whole country

->Explandandum and explanans. Emic understandings must been interpreted,

not simply put aside. Explain why anticlericalism exploded with unprecedented
rage and what people say when they criticize ROC representors. Es 18000
churches, 425 hospitals?
Giuseppe Tateo Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology PhD Candidate

elementary social fact is the communication or the modification of a state of consciousness
by the action of one human being upon another. (Candea, ed., 2011 tarde)
As Tarde puts it: the elementary social fact is the communication or the
modification of a state of consciousness by the action of one human being
upon another (Tarde 1895 in Candea 2010: 29). Quoting Tarde, a forgotten
precursor of methodological individualism (Candea 2010: 7), while holding a
holistic perspective would sound highly contradictory. ->but scalraholism is not
systemic holism

Drawing on both theoretical debates and my own Bucharest example, I hope to

demonstrate that tracing wider contextualisation or cautioning about top-down
processes is an indispensable counterpart to better make sense of our micro-
scaled ethnographic endeavours.

Stiff dichotomies between methodological holism and individualism should

find a place o

This geographic/administrative layer, though, is not the only criterion by which

regulating a scalar approach. Several forms of capital enable specific groups to
manipulate decision-making processes, thus affecting other social actors
located on a different ground. The cathedrals affair needs to be analyzed also
under this lens. Here the scope to adopt in order to test the waters is,
obviously, much smaller than the (inter) national one I mentioned a few lines
above. Therefore, it becomes crucial to engage with emic understandings of
the CMNR project placing them in a continuum ranging from harsh refusal to
prompt sustain and with the moral compass displayed by different actors
more or less directly involved with the cathedral construction (civic activists,
militant secularists, priests, monks, devotees, donors, civil servants, technical
experts, dwellers and shopkeepers located in the surroundings of the cathedral,
Giuseppe Tateo Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology PhD Candidate

Vicariousness/Delegation: Who takes decision Who suffers from them.

When scale meets religion
V: Anticlericalism unleashed by a) BOR representors perceived as part of the
b) Majestic presence of BOR by means of some of its hierarchs and its buildings

D: State institutions blamed to have allocated money without considering

citizens priorities (education and health system)

Why to operate some holistic contextualization before starting an

ethnographic engagement with the networks and areas we chose (or we have
been chosen from, in the name of ethnographic open-endedness)? A first,
immediate reason consists in avoiding the old pitfall of cultural particularism.
The need to debunk essentialist descriptions of Orthodoxy goes then beyond
the mere academic ground: the CMNR case and, more generally, the churching
boom in Romania have been too often depicted in a pure sensationalist spirit
by national and international media. The case of BBC journalists writing about a
whole nations passion for building churches is a clear example of such a risk.
The impressive church building rates need to be explained by accounting for
the state of impasse between Orthodoxy and some religious minorities in
Romania. New churches have been rising because of the contested returning of
religious buildings to the Greek Catholics after 1989, for instance. Rebuilding
what have been destroyed by the Communists represents another small part of
the puzzle. Even more interestingly, in many cases churches rise because of
the necessity
All these reasons have to be matched with an important economic counterpart:
the undisputed primacy of the Orthodox Church in dealing with the temporal
sphere guarantees, then, the right flow of economic resources in case money
coming from the devout was not enough. This wider picture prevents from any
culturalist temptation, and purveys more reliable explanations for similar facts.
If we, as urban anthropologists, are to retain some of the explanatory ambitions
Giuseppe Tateo Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology PhD Candidate

our discipline claimed since its very beginning, then scalar holism is a valid
approach to follow. Windows onto complexity that is, our fieldsites, as
Candea calls them are not supposed to be properly disclosed without any
attempt to place them into a broader picture.

Marcus 2010 H; organizing inquiry on moving ground and time according to

scales and a temporality appropriate to its objects of study

Hannerz (1980): Barnes in Bremnes: 3 scales 1. Territorial systems (family,

quarter, parish) / 2. Work, industry and production / 3. Kinship, Friendship and
Acquaintances. This last has been chosen by excluding the other two (299);
Approaching relational entities: How CMNR has been made possible in practice?
Which law approved it and who formally proposed it in the parliament? Which
networks had been interested in the process of submission and approval? In
which way the RP influenced political actors?
The idea of network in anthropology stands for abstracting for analytical
purposes () we sometimes point out that in principle, any such system, even
the world, can be seen as a "total network". Such an idea has its uses. But, in
fact, what we normally do is to draw boundaries around some unit which we
deem to be practical for our further scrutiny (1980:172).

follow PKiN (the hypothetical elephant) into the city (the room).18 I got to
know, socialized with and interviewed people who took a particular interest in
the Palace, with collectors of trivia and postcards. I attended public meetings
and fi lm screenings devoted to PKiN and those that werentand noticed that
the specter of the Palace quite mercilessly gatecrashed into conversations and
events devoted to other aspects of Warsaws urban existence. I talked to
residents of various parts of Warsaw about how they viewed the Palace as part
of their lives.(64) CRITICISE: this is not PO + Prism metaphor doesnt work if
you have to run after people interested in it. It becomes a sort of cultural
studies exercise.
Giuseppe Tateo Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology PhD Candidate

While the mosque and the cross projects are still on way of definition, and their
realization far from granted, the CMNR is on construction since 2011 and on the
lips of all Bucharest citizens. The project of the national Orthodox cathedral
was firstly conceived after the Kingdom of Romania won independence from
the Ottoman Empire following the 1877 Russian Turkish war. Due to lack of
resources the project was temporarily abandoned and regained momentum
after 1918, when the Romanian kingdom incorporated the previously
Hungarian province of Transylvania and formed the so called Great Romania. It
was within this context that its current name Catedrala Mntuirii Neamului
Romnesc, namely the Cathedral for the Salvation of the Romanian People
(henceforth CMNR) took form: the re-shaped Romanian state had to properly
match with Orthodox religion to carry on the symphonia principle. As Mihalache
reports, the shift from Christs Resurrection as the cathedrals dedication (as
stated in 1881 by the Association for the Construction of the Bucharest
Cathedral), to the Cathedral of the Nation for the 1891 competition, and the
Cathedral for the Redemption of the Nation in 1920 implies a new awareness
of Orthodoxy as an identifier of the Romanian nation (2008: 779). Anyway,
during the interwar period the Orthodox clergy could not find a suitable
location for the new building. Therefore, the project was put on the back burner
until the communist regime had collapsed. After 1989, the rapid re-churching of
Romanian cities, towns and villages made the construction of the national
cathedral come back on the agenda. Following a decade of negotiations, in
September 2005 the Parliament eventually approved the current placement in
the Arsenal Hill district (Dealul Arsenalului), even though the works started only
in February 2011 .
The cathedral will be 120 meters long, 70 meters wide and 120 meters high,
around twenty meters higher than the current highest Orthodox church, the
cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. The cost of the sole cathedral
without finishing touch has been estimated to be around 100 million , but at
the moment any appraisal is unreliable. The question regarding who should
finance the construction is thorny, being the whole sum covered almost wholly
by public money. So far 46 million from public funds have been earmarked.
These funds have been donated by the central government, some regions, and
several Bucharests districts.
Giuseppe Tateo Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology PhD Candidate

Article structure:
INTRO: Theoretical goal (re-proposing a specific kind of Holism in todays
anthropological practice in urban contexts) explained by an ethnographic case
study (Bucharest religious mega projects).

1. Brief exposure of three Bucharests cases. Gigantism, using religious

symbols to demarcate the urban landscape. Three cases demonstrating
that Bucharest is undergoing a process of re-consecration, even though
for different reasons and purposes. The new cathedral is a demonstration
of the power the ROC immediately regained after the fall of Communism.

2. 50 SHADES OF HOLISM: Discerning all the major meanings of Holism and

defining the one I intend to rely upon. Briefly introduce the connection
with Urban Anthro literature and the link between Holism and Scale
(quote Strathern in Laidlaw and deepen it).
2b. Expose current skepticism towards Holism (Candea; Laidlaw) and show
their weak points. (H=/MSR; H=/WH; H=/SysA; MSR successful in studying
specific themes like migration. Candea in a village, not unsurprisingly he
sidesteps Holism. Urban areas, especially when they are capital cities, need a
different treatment.)

3. HOLISM CAN TAILOR YOUR FIELD(WORK): Detailed explanation of H4

quoting Marcus 2010, Gronhaug 1978, Brumann 2012 and Low 2002-


4. THINKING THROUGH SCALES HELPS TO: a) explain transformations in the

local religious life b) Make sense of recent urban developments by
locating them in their own context (Church building rates for CMNR;
Global turkish government strategy for Mosque), avoiding at the same
time misleading interpretations (i.e. wholly disavow secularist theories
(or following post-secularist ones) just because of the construction of new
houses of worship).