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De Zarathoustra au mahdi: anthropologie des métamorphoses de l'attente messianique dans la mondialisation – Eschatologies

Submission summary

1. Scientific context 2. Description of the proposal, methodology 3. Expected results 1. One necessarily notices the importance of eschatological expectations in the contemporary world. Because of globalisation, it has almost become a world-wide social phenomenon even though the epicentre is located in the Middle East. This complex process is inscribed in a new dialectic which underlies political stakes on an international scale, where Jews, Christians, Muslims and Zoroastrians interact. It is also important to note the anxiogenic quality of the contemporary world on different levels (political, economical and social level) and the way in which this anxiety is linked to the reactivation of eschatological expectations. The means of expression of the contemporary eschatological expectations are deeply polymorphous. We do not intend only to question the dialectic with a distant place which seems to have become closer because of globalisation. We also want to study the relations woven at the heart of every socio-cultural unit through the analysis of a few eschatological moments considered as key-points. 2. We have decided to locate our research proposal in a definite geographical zone, considered as epicentral for the study of contemporary events: the Middle East, Europe and North America. We wish to analyze 'eschatology' not as a system of beliefs permanently laid down by sacred texts but rather as a concept covering a wide range of acts. Tools of mobilization; political resources, means of explaining and crystallizing collective and individual anxieties; dogmatical grammar, eschatology is, most often, not a complete and definitive engagement but a posture among others, seized at a precise moment, for actors behaving in a world which requires to move forward, according to circumstances, moments and places. We will start with the analysis of eschatological postures, which can sometimes be ordinary and embryonic, in order to understand how they topple-over into radicalism. The choice of diachrony will allow us to study the way apocalyptic dogmas, figures and scenarios are used, interpreted or even reshaped by actors who mobilize sources of varied meanings and values. The complexity of our research proposal leads us to adopt an anthropological view, using that term in its widest sense, that of a 'crossroad science'. This proposal brings together an interdisciplinary and international team, mainly composed of young scholars: cultural anthropologists, sociologists, psycho-sociologists, historians, historians of religions, political experts, linguists and philologists. A broad program of comparative field-work investigations will be used as the basis of this proposal. 3. This pluridisciplinary and collective research will allow us to interrogate the modes of construction of eschatological expectation processes, taken as social phenomena. We will try to grasp the dynamic, the stakes and the dialogical relationship between the different religious groups in presence. We will attempt to bring to light and to draw up a structure of eschatological expectation in today's world. The analysis of the link between social anguish and eschatological expectations will allow us to examine the psychic contents of a social myth. Through studying the articulation of these phenomena and of traditional narrations, we will try to show how a system of meaning can be the object of a discursive process in which its kerygmatic vocation is diverted from its original aim and content: a tool of power or of political legitimacy, but also a frame of thinking to interpretate, compensate an anxiety or simply to mentally appropriate a narrative structure which, belonging nowadays to human patrimony, can be used outside of any theological frame by popular culture. At that point we will be able to bring to light the links between narration and praxis and, as a result, to show how sacred language can generate social novelties.

Project coordinator

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


Help of the ANR 0 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 0 Months

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