chapter  1
17 Pages

Pilgrimage Studies in Global Perspective


Around the world today millions go on journey to and from pilgrimage sites, defined here as sites of deep significance for both individuals and groups. Although what we might describe as ‘place pilgrimage’ to distinguish it from two other traditional journeys-imaginary or virtual pilgrimage and the individual quest for moral perfection over time-has long been associated with institutional religion, visitors to religious sites come for a variety of reasons and some may have no close involvement in religious beliefs and practices (see Reader, 2014; Eade, 2016). Furthermore, pilgrimage has developed to sites that are associated with non-religious beliefs and practices. ‘Secular pilgrimage’ has developed around sites of national or ethnic suffering, such as Auschwitz and the First World War battlefields in northern France, Belgium and Gallipoli. Stonehenge and the routes to Santiago de Compostela attract ‘spiritual pilgrims’ and others influenced by ‘New Age’ and other beliefs, which draw on a variety of religious and nonreligious beliefs and practices. This increasing diversity in place pilgrimage is also intimately bound up with the massive expansion of tourism since the Second World War, leading to various hybrid forms such as ‘religious tourism’, ‘dark tourism’ and ‘thanatourism’, for example (see Rinschede, 1992; Reader and Walter, 1993; Seaton, 2002; Slade, 2003; Timothy and Olsen, 2006; Raj and Morpeth, 2007).