Christian Hajjis-The Other Orthodox Pilgrims to Jerusalem

SLAVIC REVIEW 73.2 (2014): 322-346

In this article, the author identifies the Christian “hajj” to Jerusalem as an important Ottoman sociocultural phenomenon. She argues that by the nineteenth century the Balkan Eastern Orthodox communities in the Ottoman empire had restructured and reinterpreted their Holy Land pilgrimages to mirror the Muslim hajj to Mecca. As a result, the ritual trip to Jerusalem was transformed into a mechanism for upward social mobility and communal empowerment. By exploring the structural and functional similarities between the Muslim and the Christian hajj, this article contributes to studies of Muslim-Christian interactions outside “the clash of civilizations” paradigm. It also reveals striking distinctions between the Balkan Christian hajjis and the Russian palomniki, calling into question the influential scholarly assumption of Eastern Orthodox practices’ homogeneity, an assumption that stands largely uncontested in the field of Slavic studies.