In the Catholic areas of Europe, the human remains (both their bones and the fabrics they touched) of persons considered to have been exceptional are usually stored for transformation into relics. The production and the reproduction of the object-relic takes place within monasteries and is carried out firstly on the material level. In this article I intend to present in detail, from an anthropological standpoint, the practices used to process such remains, the role of the social actors involved and the political-ecclesiastical dynamics connected with them. Owing to obvious difficulties in accessing enclosed communities, such practices are usually overlooked in historiographical and ethno-anthropological analyses, while they should instead be considered the most important moment in the lengthy process intended to give form and meaning to remains, with a view to their exhibition and use in ritual.
-avian intimacy denigrates not only the slain human body, the fighting and agential body reduced here to morsels of warm meat for the pleasure of birds, but also the intimate human relations that, in the oral culture of the poem, provide the conduit for human knowledge production.
Homosociality and knowledge
In elite homosocial cultures, including both the warrior culture of Beowulf and the monasticism that probably produced the text, love and knowledge are transmitted through the same intimate bonds.
moments in the Second World War.
A similar fluidity in the significance of clothing occurs in religious identity. In medieval and Catholic Europe, simple dress was part of the identity of monks, friars, and nuns, and if there was colour, it was often black or brown. The Protestant reaction in and after the European Reformation distanced itself from what it saw as the excesses of the Catholic church by adopting its own version of the very visual signs of Catholic monasticism: simple clothes, absence of colour, preference for black
and perceive the historic seventh-century past. On the other hand,
the incorruptible body, by dint of not displaying the passage of
time, allowed multiple temporalities to coexist. Perpetually poised
between life and death, activity and slumber, St Cuthbert could
carry the past into the present –his still incorrupt corpse forever
fixed in a former time yet, quite literally, flexible enough to endure
into the future.
1 Michelle Brown, The Lindisfarne Gospels, pp. 34–5. The ‘Celtic’ tradition refers to the Irish-oriented Columban monasticism that combined
Lindy Brady, ‘Echoes of Britons on a fenland frontier in the Old English Andreas ’, RES , 61 (2010), 672.
See Kelly Wickham-Crowley, ‘Living on the ecg: mutable boundaries of land and water in Anglo-Saxon contexts’, in Clare A. Lees and Gillian R. Overing (eds), A place to believe in: medieval monasticism in the landscape (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University
field. 15 Monasticism and Puritanism alike attempt to reduce clothing to a functional level, but cannot avoid at the same time using it to proclaim both an egalitarian and ascetic message and the distinctiveness of the wearer. John Moore, visiting Paris in 1789, observed that ‘in a short time a little black cloak on a brown thread-bare coat became respectable; and afterwards, when the cloaks were laid aside … a great plainness or rather shabiness of dress was … considered as a presumption of patriotism.’ 16 Democracy as the rule of all entails the abolition of