Stereotypes in the Service of Anthropological Inquiry: Pilgrims From Ukraine in the Kalwaria Pacławska Sanctuary



pilgrimage, Roman Catholicism, collective memory, ethnic stereotypes, anthropological interpretation, Kalawaria Pacławska, Poland


This article tackles the question of Polish-Ukrainian relations in the Roman Catholic sanctuary in Kalwaria Pacławska, located very close to the Polish-Ukrainian state border. It discusses how not taking a firm stand in debates on the multi-faith history of the cult site, and excluding some pilgrimage groups from an official religious discourse constructed by the sanctuary authorities, results in a certain otherizing and exotizing of these groups. Focusing on relations between Polish Roman Catholic pilgrims and pilgrims of various Christian faiths coming to Kalwaria Pacławska from Ukraine, I analyse the role of ethnic stereotypes, prejudices, collective memory and current historical policy in anthropological interpretation. Suggesting an interpretation of fieldwork data that goes beyond the context of Polish-Ukrainian relations and, although not denying this context as a background of field research, I propose a complementary understanding of the processes observed in the field, namely as the defence of authenticity of religious experiences.


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Author Biography

Kamila Baraniecka-Olszewska, Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology at the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw

PhD. Hab. in ethnology; deputy director for general affairs in the IAE PAS.


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The chapel "The Tomb of the Mother of God", Kalwaria Pacławska, August 2017, photo: P. Baraniecki




How to Cite

Baraniecka-Olszewska, K. (2018). Stereotypes in the Service of Anthropological Inquiry: Pilgrims From Ukraine in the Kalwaria Pacławska Sanctuary. Ethnologia Polona, 38, 89–106. Retrieved from