New Religions in Montesacro

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 16:45
Location: Hörsaal 34 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Mario VENTURELLA, PoieinLab, Italy
Niccolo SIRLETO, PoieinLab, Italy
Francesco SACCHETTI, Università degli studi di Urbino, Italy
This work shows the results of an ethnographic study performed by a team of researchers that has as focus the settlement of some families inside an Italian mountain community that we would call Montesacro. These new inhabitants belongs to an international new religious movement (NRM) originating from the United States, classifiable as psychosect with millenarism and new age features (Pace 1997). The typical message of joy and positivity has been replaced by a catastrophic and frightening dialectic about forthcoming doom. The Leader identified this place as one of the few that that will be saved from the cataclysm announced at the end of December 2012. Focus of the research: the problematic system of relations between the NRM, the local Catholic Church, the entrenched Islamic community and the local politics. The presence of the Islamic community is a secondary effect of the economic migrations in the last decades. This has created some frictions with locals, due the insufficient occupational resources in the area. The NMR, drove by his belief system, invested greatly on the territory, turning back on the productive tissue and breathing new life in the local market. In particular many contruction companies had been activated for building and modify real estates by needs of the small community, mainly needs of protection and self-sufficience (underground bunkers, well, etc…). Different features of the two religious systems had brought local population to develop a different approach toward the believers, affected by the presence of actors such Lega Nord (xenophobic Italian party) able to influence public debate negatively for Islamic immigrates. The study has been conducted with a non-continuous presence during two years (Summer 2011-Autumn 2013). One of the researcher has performed covert observation inside the cult, then other two researcher started a participant observation that has allowed a direct contact with locals.