Theorizing origins: an analysis of descriptions of hybridity in Marian devotional cultures
Scholars have long been interested in groups whose members describe themselves as devotees of Mary. Yet, in relaying the descriptions of such devotional communities, scholars too often merely repeat the history put forward by the devotees themselves. Scholars’ repetition of the tale of devotional origins provided by their informants—examined here in three separate case studies, each deriving from different periods and geographic regions—problematically reifies our understanding of the past and a group’s development, portraying it as an authentic account of that history. Instead, using recent scholarship on Marian devotional groups as the example, this thesis maintains that scholars should remain critical of the origins accounts provided by the groups they study and remain wary of recreating those narratives in their own descriptions of the groups.