Saturday, July 24, 2004

Creating Pagan Identity

Back at my campus office, I discovered a review copy of Witching Culture by folklorist and anthropologist Sabina Magliocco. The publisher's cover blurb calls it "the first ethnography of this religious movement to focus specifically on the role of anthropology and folklore in its formation."

I think the meatiest section will be the last, Part III, "Beyond Experience: Religion and Identity" with its two chapters, "The Romance of Subdominance: Creating Oppositional Culture" and "'The Heart is the Only Nation:' Neo-Paganism, Ethnic Identity, and the Construction of Authenticity."

I am just starting to read it, but I can already see that Magliocco takes on the problem of why, in the face of all historical evidence, so many Pagans cling to the myth of the Burning Times and of the antiquity of Wicca, as though it really was a direct survival of the Stone Age and not a twentieth-century creation. She seems to view these issues through the lens of "identity politics," which probably is as valid an approach as any. I look forward to spending more time with the book.


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