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Anthropology of CatholicismA Reader$
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Kristin Norget, Valentina Napolitano, and Maya Mayblin

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520288423

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520288423.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 25 May 2020

Marking Memory

Marking Memory

Heritage Work and Devotional Labor at Quebec’s Croix de Chemin

(p.122) 10 Marking Memory
Anthropology of Catholicism

Hillary Kaell

University of California Press

Across rural Quebec twenty-foot devotional crosses stand tall along the waysides. A tradition inherited from France, lay people constructed crosses on or near their property, especially during the "Marian century" (c. 1850s-1950s). Today, most associated devotional practices, including group prayers, have almost disappeared. Yet approximately 3,000 crosses remain and their continued existence defies the predictions of an earlier generation of "folklore" specialists who, in the 1970s, concluded that their demise was imminent. This chapter argues that the secularization model that drove that prediction, and contemporary post-secularization models are inadequate conceptual frameworks for understanding the experience of being at the wayside cross. Drawing instead on recent work in anthropology of prayer, it traces how the crosses are central nodes in generationally shifting ‘prayerscapes’. In other words, the changing nature of the Catholic Church in Quebec has not only made people pray for different things, but has also changed the kind of prayers they say. This chapter traces the evolution of prayer by drawing on the large archive amassed over a ten-year study of the crosses in the 1970s, and on fieldwork conducted from 2012-14.

Keywords:   Cross, public, prayer, secularism, modernity, Quebec, heritage

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