The Acoustics and Geopolitics of Orthodox Practices in the Estonian-russian Border Region

Chris Hann and Hermann Goltz

in Eastern Christians in Anthropological Perspective

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780520260559
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520945920 | DOI:
The Acoustics and Geopolitics of Orthodox Practices in the Estonian-russian Border Region

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While part of a global community of Eastern Christians, Orthodox believers in Saatse and elsewhere in Setomaa maintain distinctive musical practices and oral traditions, commemorate local saints, visit local holy places and village chapels (tsässonad), celebrate together at village parties (kirmaskid) and calendric festivals (praasnikud), and integrate Orthodoxy into cultural activism and plans for regional development. The acoustics and geopolitics of Orthodoxy in Setomaa register how particular musical practices are efficacious and make the region integral despite competing territorial claims made by the Estonian and Russian states and Orthodox churches. With this in mind, this chapter examines the liturgical singing of choir members, congregants, and priests at parishes in Setomaa to document their critical, agentive, embodied engagement in Orthodoxy and the geopolitics of postsocialism. By concentrating on sound in the making, experience, and expression of Christianity and the establishment of sacred, social, and moral orders, it expands upon salient themes in ethnomusicological work on global Christianities.

Keywords: Eastern Christians; Saatse; Setomaa; musical practices; oral traditions; Orthodoxy; liturgical singing

Chapter.  9756 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology of Religion

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