Pilgrimage Studies in Oceania: Betwixt and between National Concerns, Academic Trends and Local Ontologies
Considering the ambivalent position of religion and the importance of nation-building in Australia, it comes perhaps to no surprise that among the first and most popular studies on pilgrimage concern, what scholars term, ‘secular pilgrimages’ to World War memorials in Australia, and battlefields and cemeteries in Turkey, Papua New Guinea, Greece and North Africa. Anzac Day (the 25th of April) is Australia’s most important national occasion, and this is reflected in the relatively large amount of scholarly work on the topic (amongst others: Hall, 2002; Scates, 2002; Slade, 2003; Hannaford and Newton, 2008; Hede and Rentschler, 2010; Hyde and Harman, 2011). The acronym Anzac stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the first major military action by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War and the many lives lost at the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey. Those who perished were not repatriated, but buried where they died. Although people of diverse backgrounds and connections have been making pilgrimages to their graves since 1919 (White, 1987; Lloyd, 1998), up until the 1990s only few Australians and New Zealanders could afford the long and costly journey. The majority of Australians have been making pilgrimages to the many memorials that were erected in practically every Australian village, town and city. These memorials, which are essentially substitute graves (Inglis, 1992: 54-55), became of great importance and took on greater importance than those in Europe (Inglis, 1992, 2005; Ziino, 2007; Winter, 2009: 612).