Part or chapter of a book
Exorcism, Media and the Romanian Orthodoxy: Chasing the Devil, Coping with Uncertainty
The Social Scientific Study of Exorcism in Christianity
Cham : Springer
191 - 215 p.
Romania, Orthodoxy, exorcism, media, popular culture
By examining the mediatization of an exorcism performed in 2005 in a remote Orthodox monastery in Eastern Romania, after which the exorcist was blamed for the death of the ‘possessed,’ this chapter engages with Michel de Cearteau’s approach to exorcism as a “language of social anxiety” (de Certeau 2005 ). Over a few days, a local event became a national affair, colonizing various social fields (Boltanski 2009). Multiple media genres – sensational media, TV talk shows, orthodox blogging, narrative nonfiction, theatre performance, and a prize winning movie at Cannes – reformulate and relocate the local event over time and space. At the crossroads of the sociology of religion and media studies, this contribution considers media technologies (taking into account their agentivity), as well as different social actors (members of the Orthodox hierarchy and their opponents, journalists, politicians, medical doctors, sociologists) who confront their narratives on the exorcism and its aftermath. Beyond the unfolding competition among groups in the post-communist orthodox field, one can argue that the mediatization of exorcism reveals a generalized epistemological uncertainty, as far as religion, politics, medicine, and justice are concerned in Romania, two years before its European integration.