Asceticism, Fieldwork and Technologies of the Self in Latin American Catholic Monasticism


  • Gustavo A. Ludueña University of Buenos Aires



fieldwork, methodology, adaption-participation


This article analyses and proposes a methodological strategy—namely, adaptation-participation—for approaching ethnographically religious settings. This procedure is based on the adoption of native technologies of the self for reaching the numinous, which supposes a process of accommodation and re-socialization of the ethnographer to the field. By focusing on ascetic technologies carried out in Benedictine monastic communities of Latin America—i.e., silence and lectio divina–this study demonstrates how their use for social research grants ethnographic entrance into the cultural milieu of monasteries. In this sense, this investigation also reveals closeness between asceticism and fieldwork defined by the Socratic principle of care of oneself, which is constituted by technologies that subjects carry on over themselves. To summarize, this work argues that the adoption of vernacular technologies of the self through adaptation-participation bridges ontologies between fieldworker and Other’s culture by producing intimacy with subjects’ experience. This strategy of adaptation-participation might also be applied in non-monastic contexts or, rather, not necessarily religious contexts.


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Author Biography

Gustavo A. Ludueña, University of Buenos Aires

Gustavo Andrés Ludueña graduated in social anthropology from the University of Buenos Aires, where he received a Licenciatura in 1998 for his research on the practice of silence in Benedictine monasteries. Then followed his MA in anthropology at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, in which he studied the promotion of tourism for religious sites in Spain. Nowadays, the author is in the process of writing his PhD thesis at the University of Buenos Aires. The focus of his doctoral investigation is on the forms of sociability and religious experience in Catholic contemplative communities. Av. La Plata 3672 2º Santos Lugares Buenos Aires Argentina 1676


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How to Cite

A. Ludueña, G. (2005). Asceticism, Fieldwork and Technologies of the Self in Latin American Catholic Monasticism. Fieldwork in Religion, 1(2), 145–164.