FORUM FOR ANTHROPOLOGY AND CULTURE

ANTROPOLOGICHESKIJ FORUM
RUS | ENG

Antropologicheskij forum, 2017, no. 33

 

THE POWER OF A SPIRITUAL ELDER’S WORDS: The WAYS OF COMMUNICATION IN A COMMUNITY WITH CHARISMATIC AUTHORITY

Daria Dubovka

Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences
3 Universitetskaya Emb., St Petersburg, Russia 
Central European University
9 Nador Str., Budapest, Hungary
ddubovka()gmail.com

Abstract: The article considers Weber’s theory of charismatic power. Traditionally, academic thought has interpreted the source of the power as either a leader’s personal characteristics or constructive actions of his / her devoted group. Instead of looking at causes of charismatic authority, I am interested in the ways of performing charismatic authority and techniques of its realization. My fieldwork was conducted in a remote Russian village with an Orthodox community, devoted to a spiritual elder (starets). Through careful ethnography, I will describe the post-Soviet conditions of turning a collective farm into a religious group, the group’s organizational characteristics, and the process of the charisma’s routinisation. The main goal of the article is to analyse communicative practices of the community. I suggest that a lot of presuppositions, on which our everyday face-to-face communication is based, would not hold in the case in which an interlocutor, according to believers, has unhuman abilities (e.g., elders can see the future). Thus, the micro level of interactions can change the whole structure of a community. I suggest to look into charismatic authority through the perspective of linguistic anthropology.

Keywords: charismatic authority, spiritual eldership, Max Weber, religious communication, anthropology of religion.

To cite: Dubovka D., ‘Sila slova startsa: mekhanizm osushchestvleniya kharizmaticheskoy vlasti’ [The Power of a Spiritual Elder’s Words: The Ways of Communication in a Community with Charismatic Authority], Antropologicheskij forum, 2017, no. 33, pp. 37–64.

URL: http://anthropologie.kunstkamera.ru/files/pdf/033/dubovka.pdf