Click the cover for more information.
This short ebook is a beginner's introduction to key themes in the anthropology of the supernatural. It aims to situate paranormal experiences and supernatural beliefs within a much broader framework through taking a cross-cultural approach. It is hoped that this approach will not only give the reader a greater appreciation of the variety of supernatural beliefs and paranormal experiences prevalent in the world’s cultures, but also that it will allow for a more in-depth, and so better informed, appreciation of similar issues within Euro-American culture. Through taking a cross-cultural approach and comparing different traditions of experience and belief we can move towards a greater understanding of what is really going on in these experiences. It is the author's hope that the book inspires readers to explore this fascinating field in greater depth.
Click the cover for more information.
The ARC Network Meeting, held in the Graduate School of Arts and Humanities at the University of Bristol, was a great success and full of lively discussion on a range of topics.
Seminar outline and photographs from the event can be seen here.
Fiona Bowie Lecture “Sixth Sense, Psychometry and Spirits of Place: Everyday Experiences of Invisible Forces in Contemporary Britain”
ANTHROPOLOGY, CONSCIOUSNESS AND CULTURE LECTURE
Wed 28 Nov, 6.30 – 8.00
Blackwell's Bookshop, 87 Park Street, Bristol.
Dr. Fiona Bowie
“Sixth sense, psychometry and spirits of place: Everyday experiences of invisible forces in contemporary Britain”
The Lecture explores the common, everyday end of the psychic spectrum in contemporary Britain. Many people claim to have a ‘gut feeling’ about something, have a pre-cognitive dream or intuition, or get a particular sensation when walking into a building or visiting a certain location. We may have knowledge of somebody or some event when making contact with a physical object associated with them or it. Having such experiences is not necessarily associated with any particular belief in the paranormal. This raises the issue of the rationalisation of psychic experiences within a secular society. Rationalist, materialist discourses dominate much of the media and academia, but exposure to a coherent system of explanation, such as that given by Theosophy or Rational Spirituality, can lead to a gradual or sudden interpretive shift. Instead of viewing psychic experiences as psychological, neurological or metaphorical, they may be seen as real events, external to the individual psyche. Many of those who testify to such experiences do so within a broadly scientific rather than religious, faith-based paradigm. Contemporary physics and cosmology are seen as proposing an expanded view of the universe that can accommodate what have hitherto been regarded as religious, metaphysical or spiritual experiences. Accounts of phenomena such as déjà vu or precognition, encounters with non-human beings or telepathic communication may be universal, but rationalisations of such phenomena change in line with other aspects of contemporary life and thought. Listeners are invited to participate in the session by bringing with them examples of such phenomena from their own experience, and to think about the interpretive frameworks used to account for them (if any).
Audio recording of the Lecture: http://anthreligconsc.weebly.com/lecture-archive.html
In this seminar I will review my research into the relationship between afterlife beliefs and certain types of ‘religious’ or ‘mystical’ experiences worldwide as found in the texts of early civilizations, and in the earliest ethnographic reports on indigenous societies. The key issue is the extent to which afterlife conceptions are consistent cross-culturally, and with the spontaneous, evidently universal near-death experience.
In opposition to contemporary postmodernist-influenced assumptions that religious beliefs and experiences are entirely culturally constructed, I argue that afterlife conceptions in human societies are commonly formed not only by a combination of culture-specific socio-historical and environmental factors, but also universal cognitive factors and universal anomalous experiential factors. This is demonstrated by the existence of thematically consistent narratives of near-death experiences found in nearly all times and places, which in turn correspond to the widespread general similarities found in afterlife conceptions worldwide. This is despite differences in social organization and scale, and high degrees of cultural independence and geographical and chronological distance between the societies considered.
THIS PUBLIC SEMINAR WILL BE HELD IN THE SUTRO ROOM OF TRINITY COLLEGE, OXFORD, AT 8:30PM ON THURSDAY 15TH NOVEMBER 2012, WITH DRINKS AT 8:15PM.
Gregory Shushan is author of the Grawemeyer Award-nominated Conceptions of the Afterlife in Early Civilizations: Universalism, Constructivism, and Near-Death Experience (Continuum Advances in Religious Studies, 2009). He has been Visiting Lecturer in Religious Studies at University of Wales Lampeter, Lecturer in the Study of Religions at University College Cork where he helped establish the first such department in the Republic of Ireland, guest lecturer in Anthropology of Religions at Swiss University, and Research Fellow at the Centro Incontri Umani (The Cross Cultural Centre) at Ascona, Switzerland. He has presented his research in seven different countries, and is the recipient of six academic awards, including the Gordon Childe Prize. He holds a Diploma in Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology from Birkbeck College (University of London), a BA in Egyptian Archaeology and an MA in Research Methods for the Humanities from University College London, and a PhD in Religious Studies from University of Wales Lampeter. He is currently a Research Fellow at the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion, University of Oxford, researching comparative afterlife beliefs in indigenous religions worldwide in the context of shamanic and near-death experiences. The project is supported by a grant from the Perrot-Warrick Fund, Trinity College, Cambridge.
For more information visit:
The October issue is finally here, featuring contributions from Hillary S. Webb, Mark A. Schroll, Matt Cardin, Andy Letcher and Eugene Burger. We hope you enjoy it (Click on the Picture Below):
The Anthropology, Consciousness and Culture lecture series is a monthly event held in Blackwell's Bookshop, Park Street, Bristol. The aim of the lecture series is to promote social scientific discussions on issues of consciousness, culture and the ways in which they interact. Although taking a broadly anthropological approach, lectures will also be presented from a variety of disciplinary perspectives including archaeology, psychology, history and philosophy amongst others. Speakers include: Ronald Hutton, Fiona Bowie, Bruce Hood, David Luke, Bettina Schmidt, and Paul Devereux. Full programme
Award Announcement: Royal Anthropological Institute's Sutasoma Award 2012 awarded to Emily Pierini's research on spirit mediumship in the Brazilian Vale do Amanhecer
The Royal Anthropological Institute’s Sutasoma Award 2012 for outstanding research merit was awarded to ARC anthropologist Emily Pierini for her research The Journey of the Jaguares: Spirit Mediumship in the Brazilian Vale do Amanhecer. Her research, which is part of her PhD at the University of Bristol, looks at the experiences of spirit mediums in the Spiritualist Christian Order ‘Vale do Amanhecer’ (‘Valley of the Dawn’). Through intensive fieldwork in Brazil, she explored the process of mediumistic development and its therapeutic uses. The study also contributes methodological insights in relation to the reflexive use of somatic experience in gathering and interpreting data.
The ARC understands this recognition by a long-established anthropological institution as part of a ever-growing attention towards those aspects of human experience that we address in developing our ethnographic methodologies.
Book Announcement: Paranthropology: Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal, Second Anniversary Anthology, edited by Jack Hunter
Edited by Jack Hunter and featuring contributions from: Robert Van de Castle, Jack Hunter, Lee Wilson, Mark A. Schroll, Charles D. Laughlin, Fiona Bowie, James McClenon, Fabian Graham, Serena Roney-Dougal, David E. Young, David Luke, and Michael Winkelman.
‘In an age often touted as 'post-modern'—when we are seeing more multi-disciplinary approaches to the study of the humanities and the sciences than ever before—it is appropriate and timely that the book Paranthropology: Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal should be offered to a believing and a skeptical world. It is expected of such a book—an anthology to be precise—that the best minds working in the fields of anthropology and parapsychology be represented in its pages. That expectation is fulfilled. In Hunter’s Paranthropology, we see a merging of parapsychological and anthropological theories, ideas, and speculations; and we see explored realms of mind, and culture, and physical experience not usually covered in textbooks on either parapsychology or anthropology alone. The new science of paranthropology bridges an academic gap, and the multi-contributor book Paranthropology is the first tentative step on that bridge towards a greater understanding of our human potential.’
Dr. Lance Storm, Australian Institute of Parapsychological Research.
‘Paranthropology has arisen at a crucial time for the academic study of the paranormal. For over a century the scientific research has been largely dominated by paradigms from psychology and physics. The laboratory findings of parapsychology demonstrate that many people can unconsciously influence a psychic event. Thus, psychic processes are inherently social, and social sciences are needed to understand them. Paranthropology explicitly addresses social processes. It provides a forum for new and diverse voices, an opportunity to present data neglected by others, and a chance for cross-pollination of ideas. Personally, I find Paranthropology exhilarating.'
George P. Hansen, Author of The Trickster and the Paranormal.
Book website: http://paranthropologyjournal.weebly.com/anthology.html
The Afterlife Research Centre will be convening a panel at the 17th World Congress of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences "Evolving Humanity, Emerging Worlds"
University of Manchester, UK
5th-10th August 2013.
Call for Papers
Closing date for paper proposals:August 3, 2012.
Panel: The Extended Self: Relations between Material and Immaterial Worlds
Fiona Bowie (ARC - University of Bristol)
Emily Pierini (ARC - University of Bristol)
Jack Hunter (ARC - 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.
The tendency to see the individual as a material bounded entity with discrete boundaries, including the boundaries of a physical lifespan that defines a person as an individual, is largely a recent Western construct. We wish to invite proposals that explore the various ways people in many cultures, including Western ones, have expanded the notion of the individual, and of personhood to include relations with non-material entities and a life that goes beyond the boundaries of a single lifespan.
The topics addressed can include relations with non-material entities; the nature of non-material worlds; forms of communication, including mediumship, clairvoyance, shamanic journeying, meditation, out of body experience, spirit possession and healing. We invite approaches that are ethnographic and experiential. Papers might include discussion of appropriate methodologies, ethical issues and ontologies. They might also tackle questions concerning personhood, consciousness, the mind and body, and their relation to materiality.
Papers should have an anthropological or ethnographic focus. Please, submit a paper title, a short paper abstract (under 300 characters including spaces), a long paper abstract (250 words) via our panel's page on the IUAES website: