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Document Details :
Title: Political Hagiographies
Subtitle: Sainthood, Ethnocentrism, and the Fallacies of Identity
Author(s): GRAU, Marion
Journal: Louvain Studies
Volume: 42 Issue: 3 Date: 2019
Ethno-nationalist narratives of identity often combine political, religiocultural and sociosexual fictions of the past. This essay considers two contemporary examples of hagiography to explore how this form of religious narrativity is deployed in the quest for narratives of national or ethnic identity as well as ideas of saintly life. Deploying a postcolonial critique of ethno-national fictions, the paper compares selected aspects of the public discourse around national patron saints: St. Olav Norway and St. Vladimir in Ukraine and Russia. In particular, the paper looks at the way the saint’s lives are retold to provide a narrative of both identity and relationality to other ethnic and religious communities. As a reconstructive approach to historic Christian figures, this essay seeks to contribute strategies to ‘provincialize Europe’ and decolonize European political theologies by proposing forms of identity construction that resist the use of collective intergenerational memory for authoritarian purposes. In this way, critical white identity constructions aim to counter the deployment of populist narratives towards a resolute construction of non-authoritarian Christian narratives of sainthood and identity.