Everyday Enchantments and Secular Magic in Montréal
Cuthbertson, Ian Alexander
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In this thesis I argue that dominant ways of imagining modernity constitute a modern imaginary that carries with it particular expectations concerning modern places, spaces, emotions, and affects as well as expectations concerning the place of religion and enchantment in the modern world. I argue that this modern imaginary and the expectations it entails works to conceal and trivialize supra-rational beliefs and behaviours in scholarship but also in the lives of individuals. I focus on one particular subset of the supra-rational beliefs and behaviours that modern imaginary conceals and trivializes, namely beliefs and behaviours associated with lucky and protective objects. I also focus on the ways the modern imaginary conceals the presence and prevalence of these objects and the beliefs and behaviours they entail in one particular context, namely Montréal, Québec. I argue that these supra-rational beliefs and behaviours constitute a subjunctive mode for understanding and experiencing daily life and describe how the modern imaginary works to discredit this subjunctive register. Finally, I argue that scholars must begin to recognize and examine this subjunctive mode and the playful engagement with half-belief it involves.