Year of grant:
Samfelag - COVID-19 verkætlan
Kristnilív heima: Hvussu tillaga kirkjur og samkomur í Føroyum seg í sambandi við COVID-19 farsóttina
Søga- og Samfelagsdeildin, Fróðskaparsetrið
Verkætlanin verður knýtt at ph.d.verkætlanini, sum Jan Jensen er í gongd við á University of Cambridge.
Grant from the FRC in DKK:
In the Faroe Islands, Christian churches and congregations1 play a very important role in the socio-cultural, personal, and spiritual lives of a very large portion of the population. Perhaps more than in any other European country, churches in the Faroe Islands serve a function in society that is difficult to imagine being fulfilled by other institutions, at least for the time being. For example, Janna Hansen (2014) has shown that around 25% of the Faroese population attends church on a weekly basis (as opposed to around 2.5% in Denmark), and a recent documentary series on Kringvarp Føroya showed that looking at many of the common parameters for mapping out the contours of a life of faith, the Faroe Islands are also well above any other comparable European countries2. While religious faith is often talked about in terms such as ‘meaning’ and ‘belief’, usually in terms of individual faith, through my own ongoing research among Christians in the Faroe Islands3, one central aspect of a Christian life is not just the personal relationship with God, but to a large degree also the social Christian life (Pons 2011). This social aspect of a Christian life is most clearly seen in church attendance. However, with the development of the ongoing worldwide COVID 19 pandemic, churches have been facing strong challenges due to the government decision that gatherings of large groups of people should be avoided. In the Faroe Islands, churches have voluntarily followed these government guidelines from day one. Of the churches that I have personally been attending during my fieldwork, none have had services or other events since around March 8 2020. However, the needs that churches fulfill has not disappeared overnight. What seems to have been the most common way of attempting to fulfill those needs has been to move church services online for people in the Faroe Islands to watch, and most churches in the Faroe Islands have been doing this in one way or another4, some of these services being pre-recorded and some broadcast live. The question of how churches incorporate and mould new technologies is already something that I have had a large focus on during my research, which makes it very natural for me to combine my existing work with the project proposed here. For example, one of my main methods during my time doing fieldwork in the Faroe Islands has been ‘participant observation’ where I have had a role as a technician in a church in Tórshavn. During my time, I have come to see that when you mediate, or technologize church services in this way, what you get is a very different “end product” than if you experience the services “live”. I find that it is imperative that this work be done as soon as possible while the churches are still figuring out how to deal with the outbreak since it will paint a picture of the decision-making and processes by which churches work out how to provide for people’s personal and spiritual needs. Were this work to be done at a later point in time, we run the risk of knowledge moving into the sphere of ‘memory’ where the nitty-gritty details of what was done might be forgotten. What we might end up with is a narrative remembrance in which success stories tend to be over-emphasized. It is important that we also understand what decisions and actions are less than optimal so that this understanding can be useful for similar situations in the future.