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"Ethnography, Historiography, and the Making of History in the Tradition of the Anastenaria"

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  • Dimitris Xygalatas, Denmark
  • Section for Anthropology and Ethnography
In five villages of Northern Greece, the communities of the Anastenaria have a long tradi- tion of fire-walking rituals. The Anastenaria are Orthodox Christians, and their rituals are performed in honour of saints Constantine and Helen. However, the majority of Greek scholars have argued that these rituals originate from the ancient orgiastic cults of Dionysus. This theory was intentionally designed to serve specific political agendas, namely to prove the continuity of Greek civilization from ancient to modern Greece. Despite lacking any evidentiary support whatsoever, it became the dominant view of the Anastenaria for more than a century and has heavily influenced not only the ethnographic representation of this tradition but also the tradition itself. This article explores ethnographic practice in the context of the Anastenaria, its effects on this tradition, and the implications for further anthropological research on the subject.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHistory and Anthropology
Pages (from-to)57-74
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Research areas

  • fire-walking, Anastenaria, Greece, Macedonia, Thrace, ritual

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ID: 20185312