Victor Turner's Theory of Symbols: The Symbolism of a Religious Site and Object in a Rural Environment in Eastern Slovakia


  • Michal Uhrin Comenius University in Bratislava Slovakia, Faculty of Arts, Department of Ethnology and Museology


This article is dedicated to the symbolism of a religious site (the church) and a religious object (the cross) in Christianity in a concrete locality and community. The study was based on Victor Turner’s theory of ritual and symbols. I used Turner’s definitions and classification of symbols as well as his theses related to rituals. My aim was to demonstrate that the church and the cross can be categorized as dominant symbols in Christianity, even though they besr distinct characteristics of dominant symbols. The data analyzed in the present text were collected by the ethnographic interview and participant observation methods during ethnographic field research. The research was conducted in eastern Slovakia, in a village in which the majority of resident are affiliated with the Greek-Catholic faith. Building on the analysis of ethnographic data, I will demonstrate the strenghts and weaknesses of Turner's theory of symbols. During the analysis, I will suggest possible answers, stemming mainly from cognitive anthropology, for certain questions left unanswered by Turner.