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Calling it Mammon: Instrumentalised Secularity and Religious Futures in Northern Ireland

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Abstract:

Competitive funding by the European Union for community projects in Northern Ireland operates according to a political logic in which some groups and projects (deemed progressive, modern and generally secular) are prioritised, while others (discursively positioned as anachronistic, traditional and religious) are precluded. In this process, EU processes of statecraft seek to instrumentalise grassroots organisations as means to the many ends of a disenchanted, modern EU federation. In turn, overtly religious groups (among them churches, parachurches, and confraternities of various kinds) adapt to these conditions by instrumentalising EU processes and goals to the general end of securing a future place for religiosity in the 'new' Northern Ireland. This paper discusses the intersection of religious objectives and ideologies with that of European modernism in the context of two organisations: the Orange Order and the Divine Fellowship Congregation (DFC). Speci fically, I argue that both associations have developed distinctive forms of practice (the 'Orangefest' and 'Utopia' projects, respectively) that re-conceive what is possible for modern EU-funded initiatives. This adaptation has implications for both sets of institutions, in that each is transformed through articulation with the other.

Keywords: EUROPEANISATION; NORTHERN IRELAND; ORANGEFEST; RELIGION; SECULARIZATION

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/ajec.2011.200206

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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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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