Pilgrims: an ethnography of sacredness

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The aim of this paper is to illustrate how subjectivity is constituted via exteriorities. Drawing upon the work of Levinas and others, it examines how voices irretrievably outside the subject call to us, on a pre-subjective level, welcoming us into various modalities of identity and belonging. In this sense, identity is conceived not as something we have but something we are given. Identity is a primordial response to various others, some of which are material and sensible and others wholly infinite and eternally beyond our perceptible horizons. The exploration of this call is conducted through an ethnography of sacredness focused around a ‘new age’ tourist group visiting Egypt in March 2007.This is not an ethnography of pilgrims or pilgrimage but on sacredness itself. By focusing on one modality through which the call announces itself (i.e. sacredness), I hope to help the reader hear how the call takes shape. Thus, the paper uses ethnography to create a space for listening. It illuminates a site (sacredness) where the various voices of the call can potentially be heard.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-24
JournalCultural Geographies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


  • Egypt
  • ethnography
  • identity
  • non-representational theory
  • sacredness


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