Includes new research on Mother Teresa's life and workUnravels the interconnectedness of Mother Teresa's life and her nation's historyProvides a well-rounded portrait of Mother Teresa in the context of her familial background and spiritual milieusEducated at Cairo University and Durham University, Gëzim Alpion lectured at the Universities of Huddersfield, Sheffield Hallam, and Newman prior to his appointment in 2002 to the Department of Sociology at the University of Birmingham. He joined the Department of Political Science and International Studies in 2010, then the Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology in 2016, and he was promoted to Associate Professor of Sociology in 2023. Gëzim's specializations encompass the sociology of religion, nationalism, fame, race, media, film and authorship. He is considered 'the most authoritative English-language author' on St Teresa of Calcutta and 'the founder of Mother Teresa Studies'. In his recent publications Gëzim has explored the concept of charism/a from a sociological and public theology perspective, Enoch Powell's populist rhetoric in the context of the eugenics discourse, and the reasons for the absence of modern spiritual icons in celebrity studies. Gëzim is currently developing the idea of 'fame capital' as a variable in an intranational and international context, examining 'The Dark Night of the Soul' phenomenon from a sociological perspective, and exploring the role of religion in fabricating national identity.3rd place winner of the Excellence in Publishing Award - Biography (Association of Catholic Publishers) A personality of Mother Teresa's calibre and global reach does not come about by chance. To provide a well-rounded portrait of this influential figure, this book approaches her in the context of her familial background and ethnic, cultural and spiritual milieus. Her life and work are explored in the light of newly discovered information about her family, the Albanian nation's spiritual tradition before and after the advent of Christianity, and the impact of the Vatican and other influential powers on her people since the early Middle Ages. Focusing on her traumas, ordeals and achievements as a private individual and a public missionary, and her complex spirituality, this book contends that Mother Teresa's life and her nation's history, especially her countrymen's relationship with Roman Catholicism, are interconnected. Unravelling this interconnectedness is essential to understanding how this modern spiritual and humanitarian icon has come to epitomise her ancient nation's cultural and spiritual DNA.Studies Mother Teresa in the context of her familial background and ethnic, cultural and spiritual milieusIntroduction Part One: Who Are Mother Teresa's Albanians? 1. Victimisations of Albanians in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries 2. The Albanian Nation, the Ottoman Empire and Turkey 3. Albanians' Illyrian Roots and Apostolic Christianity 4. The Calvary of Albanian Christianity 5. How Albanian Catholics Became a Pariah Community 6. An Onomastic Perspective on Catholic Albanians' Ethno-Spiritual Identity Part Two: History from Below: Mother Teresa's Albanian Roots and Skopje Years 7. Mother Teresa's Paternal Relations 8. Mother Teresa's Maternal Relations and the Taboo Blood Feud Story 9. Two Unusual Success Stories 10. The Affliction of Death 11. Gonxhe and Her Family Through the Eyes of a Forgotten Household Member Part Three: Mother Teresa's Relations with the Holy See and the Albanian Nation 12. The Holy See's Relations with the Albanian Nation During Mother Teresa's Lifetime 13. Mother Teresa's Religious Vocation as an Escape and a Quest 14. Was Mother Teresa Discriminated Against at Loreto for Being Albanian? 15. Skanderbeg and Mother Teresa: Two Unlikely Albanian Heroes Conclusion Endnotes Select Bibliography Select Filmography Index About the Author[Alpion's] new and scrupulously researched study shows that she, with her turbulent early years, was even more remarkable than we thought. [Alpion's] recent research reveals a darker truth about Mother Teresa's history. Yet it is precisely her early troubles that may ensure her resonance in a world facing similar calamities. Fascinated with her formative years, Alpion, a British sociologist, believes that the young Teresa's 'trauma' was the crucible in which the saint was formed. Alpion finds the same early upheaval at the root of the most troubling aspect of her later life: her 50-year dark night of the soul, revealed in posthumous letters, during which Teresa felt as though Jesus had totally abandoned her. Her perception of divine withdrawal, he suggests, was a recapitulation of the loss of her father [who, when she nine, suffered a] sudden and agonising death, possibly by poisoning. Some who like their saints simple may choose not to hear him. But Mother Teresa has not been a simple saint for quite a while. Alpion's research will continue thus filling in more blanks in Teresa's early life.Serious scholars and casual readers alike will find much to ponder in [Mother Teresa: The Saint and her Nation] - a book that at the very least enriches our understanding of one of the 20th century's most enduring figures.This scrupulously researched study shows that [Mother Teresa] was even more remarkable than we thought.Besides offering a pleasant read, the book is a testimony of new academic levels reached by the author. His meticulous efforts to bolster his claims with public documents related to Mother Teresa as well as new documents and facts deserve commendation and emulation from anyone in this discipline.A well-rounded portrait of this influential figure.[T]he book raised new questions and opened new venues for future research.Mother Teresa: The Saint and Her Nation is a beautifully written and moving account of the complex set of personal, familial and national relationships that shaped this saintly figure. Gëzim Alpion offers the reader an incredibly well-researched political histography and genealogy, showing us the foundational importance of Albania and Skopje and of key figures such as grandmother Drane and mother Roza. In this fascinating book, not only does Mother Teresa newly appear as a fully formed super-individual but the power and importance of sociological inquiry are also refreshingly revealed.This book constitutes one of the rare scholarships capable of delivering the promise of consilience without incurring the usual cost of reductionism. Cultural and ethnic backgrounds, social and political factors, psychological development and trauma, family relationships and so on-how to bring all these to bear upon a spirituality that soars above it all in the timeless dimension of faith and devotion, without explaining the latter away? It takes both great science and art to capture the spirituality of Mother Teresa in the manner of a blooming lotus with roots, mud and all. This is exactly what Gëzim Alpion has accomplished in Mother Teresa: The Saint and Her Nation.Insightful and original, creative and extensively researched, this is a fine book that sheds new light on the life, work and formative Albanian background of Mother Teresa. There is much to learn about the tension between Teresa's private and public life, as well as her traumas and accomplishments in this valuable and rich book.Gëzim Alpion turns into a veritable archaeologist-cum-detective in the construction of the book. The process unravels and pierces the veneer of a monolithic 'religious call' popularly believed in the transformation of Gonxhe Agnes Bojaxhiu. Layers of hitherto unimaginable evidence-political, social and historical-are scooped up that actually encompassed the field and habitus and acted as compelling pushes and pulls for St Teresa of Calcutta since her childhood. This thorough and timely study is a very good read.Very rarely does one find a work of epic dimensions that covers three generations of a family and spans across many ages in the history of a nation. Gëzim Alpion's text interweaves the Albanian national and cultural unconscious with Mother Teresa's character using the insight of a psychoanalyst, sensitivity of a preacher and authority of an oracle. While making Teresa the most ideal representative of the country's layered and tumultuous history, it also successfully synecdochises Albanian history into a convincing character. The book is a triumph of historical knowledge, sociological understanding and narrative acumen-a tour de force so far as life-story writing is concerned.In this fascinating and important book, Gëzim Alpion offers a deep, powerful and at times quite moving insight into the life of Mother Teresa and the formative and critical tensions between her life, her nation and the Roman Catholic church. This is not just a biography. It is a complex exercise in historical exegesis, spiritual biography and cultural analysis. Anyone wishing to understand the multifactored impact and significance of Mother Teresa will find this book invaluable. If you thought you knew and understood Mother Teresa, this book will make you think again.Even more than two decades after her death, controversy continues to surround the life and times of Mother Teresa, the Albanian-born, Kolkata-based Nobel Prize winning saint. In this comprehensive study by Gëzim Alpion, her Albanian roots are explored in a way never done previously. Dr Alpion, an authority on Mother Teresa, has written a book which will engage and enlighten academic as well as general readers all over the world.Few of us are unaware of the remarkable contribution made by Mother Teresa, but who is she really? In his fascinating new book, Gëzim Alpion places the saint into her historical context, exploring the roots of her religious personality in the framework of familial and national history. Using newly available evidence, Alpion brings Mother Teresa into much clearer focus. This comprehensive academic study of the saint establishes Alpion as the leading authority in the field. Alpion has penned what will certainly become the standard guide to Mother Teresa's heritage and her life.
Educated at Cairo University and Durham University, Gëzim Alpion lectured at the Universities of Huddersfield, Sheffield Hallam, and Newman prior to his appointment in 2002 in the Department of Sociology at the University of Birmingham. He joined the Department of Political Science and International Studies in 2010 and the Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology in 2016. Gëzim's specializations encompass the sociology of religion, nationalism, fame, race, media, film and authorship. He is considered 'the most authoritative English-language author' on St Teresa of Calcutta and 'the founder of Mother Teresa Studies'. In his recent publications Gëzim has explored the concept of charism/a from a sociological and public theology perspective, Enoch Powell's populist rhetoric in the context of the eugenics discourse, and the reasons for the absence of modern spiritual icons in celebrity studies. Gëzim is currently developing the idea of 'fame capital' as a variable in an intranational and international context, examining 'The Dark Night of the Soul' phenomenon from a sociological perspective, and exploring the role of religion in fabricating national identity.