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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.134

Ethnographic study of monasteries in Poland


  • Dr. Marcin JEWDOKIMOW

Primary authors


On the verge of XIXth and XXth century Catholic orders were recovering from losses caused by secularization politics of XVIIIth and XIXth centuries. If we look on statistical data we see that this process of compensation had been stopped in 60s/70s of XXth century. Between 1974 and 2015 there was a general drop of religious sisters by 32% (in Europe by 55%, in North America by 66%), religious brothers by 23% (in Europe by 53%, in North America by 55%) and religious priests by 9% (in Europe by 26%, and in North America by 44%). In comparison to Europe Poland case is quite different. Even though we observe a drop of religious sisters and brothers (-22% and -15%) there is also a remarkable increase of religious priests (+72%). A closer, anthropological look unveils that this general drop is complicated and it need a careful examination. If we move from focusing on number of religious sisters, brothers and priests, to study monasteries and relations in which they operate locally, we uncover complexity of monasteries functions. Locally monasteries overcome religious field – their functions are related also to social and economic development and identity issues. Within my paper I show that a statistical thesis on a crisis of monasticism today may be balanced by ethnographic focus which shows their vivacity. I base my argumentation on qualitative data from my field studies conducted between 2012-2017 in five towns in Poland where Cistercian monasteries are located.