ARC member Bettina Schmidt, Andrew Dawson, and Daniel Clark discuss 'The Changing Face of Religion in Brazil' on BBC Radio 4's 'Beyond Belief'.
Also available through the ARC Bookstore
‘This is a volume of great originality, full of rich primary ethnographic data, presented in twelve original articles by as many scholars of different backgrounds and with varying perspectives. They deal with mediums and other spirtists in locations as diverse as England, Cuba, Brazil, Taiwan, Quebec, Cyberspace, and more. Sharing much and differing widely, acting often in competitive situations, mediums may find themselves challenged by others like them or by people who start from different premises, whether medical or religious: is a Cuban child suffering from epilepsy or from a spirit seeking its development as a medium? Do Afro-Brazilian houses serve spirits, or demons to be exorcised by Evangelical Christians? Readers will be able to raise questions of their own and may find some surprising answers. The volume is supplemented by excellent bibliographies.’
- Erika Bourguignon, PhD, Professor emerita, Department of Anthropology, The Ohio State University
‘What happens when a largely tabooed method (comparativism) hones in on a completely tabooed subject (spirits)? This. Astonishing possibilities, insights, and new directions follow in the wake of these essays, which demonstrate again and again both careful ethnographic description and a most remarkable open-mindedness with respect to the phenomena themselves. What some are calling the "ontological turn" in the humanities just got a bit sharper.’
- Jeffrey J. Kripal, PhD, author of Authors of The Impossible: The Paranormal and The Sacred.
‘Talking with the Spirits is a unique collection of essays respectfully and in great depth examining - using a myriad of investigative approaches and perspectives - the variety of mediumistic phenomena that occur all over the world. It will serve as an important resource for researchers as well as anyone interested in the diversity of mediumistic experiences, traditions, and practices.’
- Julie Beischel, PhD, Director of Research, The Windbridge Institute for Applied Research in Human Potential.
‘Talking with the Spirits is a unique anthology of papers that presents a wide range of “ethnographies of the ostensibly paranormal,” especially mediumship. Editors Hunter and Luke have done us a great service in reminding the anthropology of consciousness of its roots in the cross-cultural study of the paranormal. The volume is also a significant contribution to interdisciplinary transpersonal studies.’
- Charles D. Laughlin, PhD, author of Communing With the Gods: Consciousness, Culture and the Dreaming Brain
‘This is an important collection of essays, which makes a significant contribution to a growing body of research and literature challenging existing scientific paradigms by reiterating the universality of spirit mediumship in human experience. The individual contributions offer fascinating insights into knowledge traditions that have accepted the challenge of exploring the range of phenomena mediumship gives access to. More importantly for the academy, this book highlights the extent to which one particular knowledge tradition, namely western scientific materialism, together with the particular disciplines influenced by that attitude, has substantially failed in this task. Fiona Bowie's opening contribution is a careful but blunt articulation of why this failure matters, and why it needs to be addressed. When the scientific community ceases to explore in favour of policing a historically-conditioned political boundary between acceptable and unacceptable knowledge, it risks finding itself in the service of those who prefer to cramp intellectual endeavour rather than face a possible diminution in their authoritative status, or other personal fears. A good scientist accepts that knowledge, especially her or his own, is provisional; by contrast, a poor scientist is content to remain a theologian of the old religion. The contributors to this book are good scientists.’
- David Gordon Wilson, PhD, author of Redefining Shamanisms: Spiritualist Mediums and Other Traditional Shamans as Apprenticeship Outcomes.
The Centre for Theory and Research at the Esalen Institute, California, has hosted a symposium on ‘Anthropology and the Paranormal’ (13-17 October 2013) which involved international scholars from anthropology, religious studies, folklore and psychology, such as: Michael Murphy, Susan Greenwood, Jane Hartford, Jeffrey Kripal, Raphael Locke, David Hufford, Charles Emmons, Jack Hunter, Thomas E. Bullard, Stanley Krippner, Edward F. Kelly, Loriliai Biernacki, Edith Turner, Tanya Luhrmann, Ann Taves, Deb Frost, Geoffrey Samuel, Antonia Mills, Fiona Bowie, Sam Yau, Frank Poletti, Paul Stoller, Gregory Shushan.
Fiona Bowie’s report on the Symposium is available to read here
Recordings of the short interviews to participants are available to listen here
Canterbury Christ Church University offers a new interdisciplinary Masters programme in 'Myth Cosmology and the Sacred' which draws on studies in psychology, anthropology, theology, and philosophy.
For further information, please, download the leaflet below:
David Gordon Wilson Lecture on 'Why is Spiritualism a Shamanism, and what does Foucault have to do with it?
Dr. David Gordon Wilson's talk from the 29th of May on 'Why is Spiritualism a Shamanism, and what does Foucault have to do with it?' is now available to listen online at:
This presentation demonstrates that Spiritualism is best understood as a traditional shamanism, as distinct from contemporary appropriations or neo-shamanisms. He argues that shamanism is the outcome of an apprenticeship in the management of psychic experiences, and which follows the same pattern as that of the apprentice medium. In doing so, Wilson offers fresh insights into the mechanisms that are key to sustaining mediumship as a social institution.
This talk examines some contexts for understanding the human exploration of near-space, the factual, the fictional and the boundary between the two. It considers the Russian cosmists, Soviet utopianism, the projection of American power, cinematic treatments of messages from heaven, environmental politics and planet Earth's inclusion in the classical celestial journey, and, not least Jack Parsons, the pioneer of American rocketry and practicing magician.
The talk is available online at: http://anthreligconsc.weebly.com/lecture-archive.html
Paul Devereux's Lecture on Time, Mind and Place: The Archaeology of Consciousness is now available to listen online at http://anthreligconsc.weebly.com/lecture-archive.html.
Dr. Bettina Schmidt's talk on 'Spirit Possession in Brazil' is now available to listen to in it's entirety at the following link:
Dr. Bettina Schmidt will be giving a talk on 'Spirit Possession in Brazil' as part of the 'Anthropology, Consciousness and Culture' lecture series.
The talk will take place at Blackwell's Bookshop, Park Street, Bristol on Wednesday 27th February. Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7.00pm start.
For more information on the lecture series visit:
Known for their beautiful textile art, the Kuna of Panama have been scrutinized by anthropologists for decades. Perhaps surprisingly, this scrutiny has overlooked the magnificent Kuna craft of nuchukana—wooden anthropomorphic carvings—which play vital roles in curing and other Kuna rituals. Drawing on long-term fieldwork, Paolo Fortis at last brings to light this crucial cultural facet, illuminating not only Kuna aesthetics and art production but also their relation to wider social and cosmological concerns.
Exploring an art form that informs birth and death, personhood, the dream world, the natural world, religion, gender roles, and ecology, Kuna Art and Shamanism provides a rich understanding of this society’s visual system, and the ways in which these groundbreaking ethnographic findings can enhance Amerindian scholarship overall. Fortis also explores the fact that to ask what it means for the Kuna people to carve the figure of a person is to pose a riddle about the culture’s complete concept of knowing.
Also incorporating notions of landscape (islands, gardens, and ancient trees) as well as cycles of life, including the influence of illness, Fortis places the statues at the center of a network of social relationships that entangle people with nonhuman entities. As an activity carried out by skilled elderly men, who possess embodied knowledge of lifelong transformations, the carving process is one that mediates mortal worlds with those of immortal primordial spirits. Kuna Art and Shamanism immerses readers in this sense of unity and opposition between soul and body, internal forms and external appearances, and image and design.
“Paolo Fortis carves out a new topic of study of the Kuna world that is of significance and has never been studied this way before. . . . His ethnography is excellent, and the vivid discussions of the relationship between the invisible spirit world and the visible human, animal, and plant world are particularly well done.”
—Joel Sherzer, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Linguistics, University of Texas at Austin
“The subject matter is fascinating. . . . Beyond the field of cultural anthropology, I believe the book will be of considerable interest to cognitive psychologists, especially those specializing in theory of mind.”
—Philip D. Young, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of Oregon
Paolo Fortis is Honorary Research Fellow, Centre for Amerindian, LatinAmerican, and Caribbean Studies, Department of Social Anthropology atthe University of St Andrews in Scotland.
Also available through the ARC Bookstore