The Social Life of Prayers – University of Copenhagen

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The Social Life of Prayers

Andreas Bandak

The post doc project is funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research in the Humanities (FKK) and co-funded by Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies. It runs from February 1, 2013 to January 31, 2017.

This research project takes its cue from the current developments in Syria and the wider region. It focuses on the Syrian Christian minority and its way of adapting to the crisis. The project follows the crisis from the perspective of Syrian Christians who are now fleeing to Lebanon and are relocated either in temporary camps or in cities and towns.

In Lebanon, Syrian Christians have to renegotiate their roles in the community, in their families, in the region and with a tradition that seems under threat. The project explores how prayers are used in negotiating these developments. Most Christians have chosen not to get politically involved; however, they are still intent on influencing the situation.

Prayers are often seen as the most forceful way of touching the hands of the Virgin Mary, the saints and Christ, and thereby beseeching God for protection and comfort. By exploring the important role of prayers in social life, the project will critically engage with Syrian Christian perceptions of the situation and the future of Christianity in the Middle East.

The project will contribute to an understanding of an often neglected group in recent Middle Eastern developments, the Syrian Christians, and will theoretically explore and develop a highly neglected anthropological research field: the role of prayers in social life as a way of acting upon the world.