Pokaiņi – The 'Latvian Stonehenge'

Author: Muktupāvela, Rūta

Source: Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, Volume 19, Number 2, Autumn 2010 , pp. 74-92(19)

Publisher: Berghahn Journals

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Abstract:

The ideologies, beliefs and practices associated with new cult places in post-Soviet Latvia are discussed. When social movement for the restoration of an independent nation state started at the end of the 1980s, new pantheistic cult sites gained a certain topicality. In relation to such sites esoteric New Age style ideologies and practices were constructed. Pokaiņi forest – a remote place in Latvia, abundant in stone piles and big stones, has been interpreted as an ancient sanctuary of global significance, as a cosmological and healing centre. Latvian scholars – archaeologists, geologists and folklorists – are treating Pokaiņi as a site with traces of ancient agricultural activity, and its popularity is attributed to the 'use of good management'. The historical perspective of the Pokaiņi phenomenon and modern interpretations of its perception are discussed in the context of revitalisation movements. The analysis of the complex socio-cultural situation of Latvia in the turn of the twentieth and the twenty- first century reveals the reasons, facilitating the emergence and significance of Pokaiņi and similar phenomena in post-Soviet Latvia.

Keywords: LATVIA; NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS; REVITALISATION; SACRED SITES

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/ajec.2010.190206

Publication date: September 1, 2010

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  • Anthropological Yearbook of European Cultures relaunched in 2008 as the Anthropological Journal of European Cultures

    Previously published as the Anthropological Yearbook of European Cultures

    Published since 1990, AJEC engages with current debates and innovative research agendas addressing the social and cultural transformations of contemporary European societies. The Journal serves as an important forum for ethnographic research in and on Europe, which in this context is not defined narrowly as a geopolitical entity but rather as a meaningful cultural construction in people's lives, which both legitimates political power and calls forth practices of resistance and subversion. By presenting both new field studies and theoretical reflections on the history and politics of studying culture in Europe anthropologically, AJEC encompasses different academic traditions of engaging with its subject, from social and cultural anthropology to European ethnology and empirische Kulturwissenschaften.
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