This dissertation is the result of a multi-sited ethnographic study of contemporary conversions to Eastern Orthodox Christianity in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region of Minnesota. Theoretically, this case study of Orthodox conversions is utilized as a way to better approach and account for the phenomenon of religious self-formation, here defined as the process by which social actors, with the aid and encouragement of others, incorporate aspects of a religious tradition into their own subjective experiences and self-interpretations. Through talking, interacting, and practicing with Orthodox Christian converts, this study provides answers to how individuals come to inhabit and experience a religious system as a personal reality, making a particular construal of the religious world a formative part of how they experience themselves as persons. While the empirical details are necessarily confined to the ethnographic case at hand, central to this dissertation is a wider claim that coming to grips with the question of how religious cultural systems enter into the lived experiences of individuals requires a better understanding of the constitutive effects of religious practices on those who perform them. Moreover, through detailed analyses of three significant religious practices and their phenomenological effects on the converts who participated in them, I demonstrate how these constitutive relationships between particular religious practices and subjectivities unfolded over time and in context, extending cross-disciplinary literatures on religious narrative, embodiment, and materiality.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2013. Major: Sociology. Advisor: Penny Edgell. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 163 pages.
Winchester, Daniel Alan.
Assembling the Orthodox Soul: Practices of Religious Self-Formation among Converts to Eastern Orthodoxy.
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