Pedagogies of Prayer: Teaching Orthodoxy in the Malankara Church (South India)

May 6, 2015 - 17:30 - 19:00
Nador u. 9, Monument Building
Popper Room
Event type: 
Event audience: 
Open to the Public
Vlad Naumescu
Center for Religious Studies
Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies (CEMS)
CEU contact person: 
Esther Holbrook
+36 1 327-3000 ex 2170
Pedagogies of Prayer: Teaching Orthodoxy in the Malankara Church (South India)

Pedagogies of Prayer: Teaching orthodoxy in the Malankara Church (South India)

Wednesday, 6 May 2015
17:30 pm
CEU, Popper Room
Reception to follow

Abstract: This lecture discusses pedagogies of prayer in the Syrian Orthodox churches in Kerala, their recent transformation and the role they play in contemporary religious life. These churches are part of the indigenous St. Thomas Christian community, split nowadays into eight different churches following colonial and missionary encounters. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in the two Orthodox communities, it focuses on the tension between knowledge and practice inherent in formal religious education and the way it shaped Sunday school curricula. It looks at classroom interaction, student competitions and textbook culture to show how pedagogical practices draw on established models of Christian formation but reveal current anxieties and social aspirations about religious and non-religious futures. Sunday schools translate these broader tensions into the pursuit of orthodoxy in times of intense competition and religious fragmentation. The apparent contradiction in the most recent Sunday school reform, which invites comprehension while reintroducing the 'mystery' of faith in ritual and religious instruction, shows how orthodoxy can mobilize resources and commitment to the group.

Vlad Naumescu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at CEU. He completed his doctoral studies in 2006 at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology and Martin-Luther University (Germany). He has conducted research on ritual, memory, and religious transmission among Orthodox and Greek Catholic communities in Romania and Ukraine, and more recently on St. Thomas Christians in South India. He is the author of Modes of Religiosity in Eastern Christianity: Religious Processes and Social Change in Ukraine (2008), co-editor of Churches In-between (2009) and of a special issue on Learning Spirit Possession (Ethnos 2012).