Icons and the Immigrant Context


  • Mariana Mastagar University of Toronto




Icons, diaporic Orthodox Christianity, Macedono-Bulgarian immigration, sacramental space, vernacular religion, implicit religion, cultural branding, diaspora, icons, Orthodox theology, post-communism immigrants, secularization


This study examines the modification in religiosity among one of the Toronto South Slavonic diaspora groups (Macedono-Bulgarian) through their receptivity to icons as a core of Orthodox Christian faith. Comparing and contrasting with the traditional meanings and usage of icons in the motherland, I test my hypothesis that they are valued differently among the After-the-Fall immigrants, a generation that has been detached from religious tradition or practice. Relying on a sample survey approach and interviews, the study finds that the icon-image is enriched with emotions and personal reflections relative to religious adaptation and memory. Appreciated as objects of art or even nostalgia for some, icons function in the immigrant context as an identity marker and cultural branding, a reminder of ethnicity and historical rootedness.


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Author Biography

Mariana Mastagar, University of Toronto

Mariana Mastagar is a doctoral candidate in Theology (Interdisciplinary Studies) at Trinity College in the University of Toronto and the Toronto School of Theology. She holds degrees in music and cultural and religious studies from Sofia University, Bulgaria. Her research interest is in the area of Eastern European post-communist immigrants and their interaction with the Church and religion in diaspora. She is currently working on the Macedono Bulgarian communities in Toronto, Canada and has presented at the American Academy of Religion annual meeting and XIX World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religion in Japan. Trinity College University of Toronto Toronto, ON, M5S 1H8 Canada


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How to Cite

Mastagar, M. (2008). Icons and the Immigrant Context. Fieldwork in Religion, 2(2), 146–159. https://doi.org/10.1558/fiel2008v2i2.146