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My paper focuses on the shift in religious values in post-socialist Romania and explores the emergence of alternative spiritual beliefs and practices among the younger generations socialized during the post-communist period. It analyses some of the changes that occurred in the wider traditional religious field and looks at the various spiritualized technologies of the self that produce a distinctive type of religious subjectivity and an immanent ethics of authenticity. By departing from the idea of an integrated religious community and from the relational understanding of religious transformation, the field of alternative spiritualities operates a radical break with traditional religion and emphasizes the possibility of spiritual self-realization and self-discovery. It is this process of the individualizing sacralization of the self that constitutes the object of various workshops, blogs, personal and spiritual development literature, courses, spiritual retreats and counselling services. My research looks at how innovative technologies of the self are developed within these spaces that emphasize creativity, wellbeing and a new understanding of subjective interiority that learns how to find in itself the resources it needs to live in a spiritualized ontology of the present.2
In line with socio-anthropological theories meant to deconstruct the secularization teleology (Berger, 1997; Luckmann, 1967; Shah, 2015), this paper aims to document recent transformations in the field of Spirituality and Religion. Inheriting the analytical dichotomy between neo-liberal and anti-capitalist forms of spirituality, introduced by Carette and King (2005), I aim to emphasize both the common points and the ruptures between the subjectification technologies used within transformative self-development and self-help programmes, on the one hand, and a form of alternative Neo-Pagan spirituality, which opposes the capitalist way of organizing social, economic, political and cultural life, on the other hand. The rupture between anti-capitalist and neo-liberal forms of spirituality rests on identifying the extent to which the spiritual domain is colonized by an economically mundane ideology, in which the subject is invited to look upon spirituality as an internal resource meant to satisfy all the tropes of the neo-liberal economic imagery: optimization, efficiency, amplified productivity, abundance and prosperity. In addition to the ethnographic justification of this theoretical construct that supports the existence of two opposed poles of constituting a spiritual self, I will adjoin the cultural relationship between spirituality and capitalism to the wider problem of secularization, by arguing that spirituality is a byproduct of late modernity and a leitmotif of the power technologies through which the neo-liberal subject is produced. 2
This article explores how sustainability was staged in the context of EXPO 2000, the first and only world exhibition organized by Germany. The notion seemed to gain ground around the turn of the millennium in global political and policy circles, especially through such documents as the ‘Agenda 21’ and the ‘Millennium Development Goals’. These were also the main source of inspiration while organizing EXPO 2000, which, under the motto ‘Humankind, Nature, Technology’ claimed to put forward a radically different vision for the 21st century. However, throughout the paper I argue that sustainability ended up performing a quite different ideological function. In Germany, the staging of sustainability took place as an activation of expertize, meant to fix a crisis of the economy and to open up new grounds for capitalism’s search for profit, ultimately deepening the environmental crisis that it was meant to alleviate in the first place.
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