IUAES 2013 Panel: The Extended Self: Relations between Material and Immaterial Worlds
17th World Congress of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences "Evolving Humanity, Emerging Worlds" University of Manchester, UK 8th August 2013
Conveners: Fiona Bowie (King's College London) Emily Pierini (University of Bristol) Jack Hunter (University of Bristol)
The notion of human personhood in most cultures extends beyond the individual and their material existence. This panel will explore ethnographic approaches to relations between individual personhood, material and immaterial forms of existence.
SESSION ONE: 9.00 – 10.30. Chair: Fiona Bowie
Fiona Bowie (King's College London) Welcome and introductions
Bettina Schmidt (University of Wales Trinity St David) The Trouble with Spirit Possession in Brazil. Based on fieldwork conducted in São Paulo, Brazil this paper explores the relationship between possessing and possessed agencies. The focus will be on interviews with participants of possession rituals in Afro-Brazilian religious communities (mainly Candomblé and Umbanda) and Spiritist groups.
Jack Hunter (University of Bristol) Mediumship and Folk Models of Mind and Matter. This paper explores the development of folk models of mind and matter as informed by the practice and experience of trance and physical mediumship, with a particular emphasis on folk models of consciousness.
Emily Pierini (University of Bristol) Mediumistic Experience and Notions of Selfhood in the Spiritualist Christian Order 'Vale do Amanhecer'. This paper addresses the practice of spirit mediumship in the Brazilian Vale do Amanhecer (Valley of the Dawn) through the approach of the anthropology of embodiment and of the senses. The discussion focuses on the process of mediumistic development and on the production of notions of Selfhood.
First session discussion
SESSION TWO: 11.00 – 12.30. Chair: Emily Pierini
Stephanie Marchal (Argyle Institute of Human Relations) – in absentia Growing threads from depressed to expanded self. Psychotherapy that rests on the clinician's own connections to the invisible is described as a way of moving seriously depressed clients from isolation, through shared states, toward the client's self becoming a part of. The inspiration is neo-shamanic, Jungian and Ericksonian.
Sveinn Gudmundsson (University of Iceland) Mind and body or "mindbody"? The holistic views of a group of doctors and nurses in Iceland. The paper is on how a part of Icelandic doctors and nurses are widening their views on health, the person and the world by incorporating holistic ideas (like meditation, CAM therapies, reincarnation beliefs, mind and body connections) into their ideology regarding health and the human being.
Fiona Bowie (King's College London) Self, Personhood and Possession. The notion of the self as a bounded entity is threatened by the idea that the spirit of someone who has died can enter the energy field of the living. This paper examines contemporary Western ideas of possession, often in a clinical setting, in relation to non-Western beliefs and practices.
Second session discussion
SESSION THREE: 14.00 – 15.30. Chair: Jack Hunter
Luiz Fernando Dias Duarte (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro), Rachel Menezes (Instituto de Estudos em Saúde Coletiva/Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) Transpersonal Ether: Family and Religion in a Brazilian urban Setting. A comparative study of personhood, religion and family among urban middle classes in Brazil, both in a circle of upper and highly cultivated social status (regarding transgenerational ties) and in a medical context of palliative care (regarding the propitiation of a good death).
Fabian Graham (SOAS) Half deity - half ghost: Trance possession and healing rituals in contemporary Singapore. Based on conversations with the Chinese Underworld deity Tua Ya Pek tranced through his medium, to a backdrop of a healing ritual and the collection and preparation of graveyard medicines to cure leukaemia, this paper presents the perspectives of the deity on possession, the soul and the afterlife.
Kim McCaul (University of Adelaide) – in absentia Pushing the boundaries of reality: Accounts of parateleportation among Western Desert Aboriginal people. This paper describes accounts by Australian Aboriginal people of a phenomenon suggestive of paratelportation, i.e. the disappearance and reappearance of a physical body across space and time. It will consider whether there is an appropriate model that can explain and encompass the ethnographic encounters with this phenomenon.