P42


Creativity and improvisation in contemporary religious experience (EN/PT) 
Convenorss:
Eugenia Roussou (CRIA, ISCTE-IUL)
Clara Saraiva (FLUL, University of Lisbon)
Location:
Auditório AA, AAUTAD (Map 27)
Start time:
10 September, 2013 at 9:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:
2

Short Abstract:

Calling for research cases that focus on the creativity of religious experience, this panel will explore the ethnographic and theoretical polyphony of creative transformations, novel challenges, and reflexive transitions that the anthropologists/anthropology of religion have to face at present.

Long Abstract

Creativity has been defined as an 'activity that produces something new through the recombination and transformation of existing cultural practices or forms' (Liep 2001: 2). This panel proposes to explore the ethnographic and theoretical polyphony of creative transformations, novel challenges, and reflexive transitions that the anthropologists/ anthropology of religion have to face at present. Drawing on the idea that creativity and improvisation constitute an inherent part of social and cultural life (Hallam and Ingold 2007), we call for papers that focus ethnographically on the creativity of religious experience. Our aim is to bring together analyses that, with the concept of religious creativity and improvisation as a starting point, will cast a reflexive gaze at the contrapuntal relationship between anthropology as (ethnographic) practice and anthropology as (academic) discipline, in an attempt to provide an answer to the question whether the anthropology of religion is in counterpoint.

Accepted papers:

Authors:

Ana Paula Mendes de Miranda (Universidade Federal Fluminense)
Roberta Corrêa (UNiversidade federal fluminense)

Paper short abstract:

Pretende-se analisar o ressurgimento de um debate público sobre formas de intolerância religiosa no Rio de Janeiro contra grupos de matriz afro-brasileira a partir da explicitação de conflitos na esfera pública em torno do reconhecimento de direitos e identidades étnico-raciais-religiosas.

Paper long abstract:

Historicamente no Brasil as manifestações religiosas de matriz afro-brasileira foram invisibilizadas, seja a partir da repressão dos órgãos estatais nas décadas de 1930 a 1950, seja a partir da expansão do neopentecostalismo a partir da década de 1980, provocando reconfigurações no campo religioso e político.

O trabalho analisará como o ressurgimento de uma controvérsia pública sobre formas de manifestação da intolerância religiosa ressurge, a partir de 2008, no Rio de Janeiro, trazendo à tona conflitos que envolvem principalmente candomblecistas, umbandistas e evangélicos neopentecostais. Tais conflitos resultaram numa situação inédita que foi a organização política de diferentes grupos religiosos do candomblé e da umbanda na Comissão de Combate à Intolerância Religiosa, que busca identificar casos de violação da liberdade de expressão e promover assistência jurídica aos religiosos, bem como difundir através da mídia e de uma grande manifestação pública anual na Praia de Copacabana (Caminhada em Defesa da Liberdade Religiosa).

Pretende-se discutir como a visibilização dos chamados casos de intolerância religiosa têm ressignificado as relações entre os grupos religiosos de matriz afro-brasileira e órgãos estatais, tais como a polícia, a justiça e órgãos do poder executivo. Nesse sentido, é possível destacar que os confiltos identificados no Rio de Janeiro permitem evidenciar uma reconfiguração das disputas entre diferentes religiões por um espaço político na esfera pública. Não se tratando de um processo de laicização do Estado, mas sim de processos de reconhecimento das demandas dos grupos religiosos minoritários anteriormente excluídos do campo político como atores dignos de manifestar suas crenças.

Author:

Eugenia Roussou (CRIA, ISCTE-IUL)

Paper short abstract:

Based on fieldwork among spiritual practitioners in Lisbon, this paper explores not only the creativity with which people in Lisbon practise their religiosity, but also the innovative dilemmas raised in the field, challenging the discipline of anthropology at a methodological and theoretical level.

Paper long abstract:

Based on current field research among practitioners of alternative forms of spirituality in Lisbon, the aim of this paper is two-fold. First, I want to explore the creative ways in which people in Lisbon practise their spirituality by incorporating religious ideas, objects, and discourses in their spiritual performances, challenging the alleged antithesis between religion and spirituality. I aim to show how, through the innovative manner with which these practitioners of alternative spirituality handle themselves during their everyday lives, they ultimately contribute to the transformation of contemporary Portuguese religiosity at a greater level.

My second aim is to pay attention to the diverse and conflicting, yet methodologically innovative, dilemmas the anthropologist has to face in the field, and how these result in a theoretical and analytic confrontation with the discipline of anthropology itself. Drawing on a request made by one of my informants during fieldwork, I will describe how this incident challenged my perception of epistemology in anthropology, raising more general questions about the anthropologist's relation with his/her own discipline, and how it helped me approach my own reflexivity more creatively.

Authors:

Clara Saraiva (FLUL, University of Lisbon)
Max Ruben Ramos (University of Coimbra)

Paper short abstract:

How do immigrants perceive death and dying and incorporate them in their religious worldviews? Using as case study the example of immigrants from Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde in Portugal, this paper will deal with the multiple levels that death touches upon, especially the religious ones.

Paper long abstract:

In spite of the interest that the recent status of Portugal as an immigration country arises, some important issues dealing with immigrant´s states of suffering and death, have hardly been dealt with. How do immigrants perceive death and dying and incorporate them in their religious conceptualizations of the diaspora? For immigrants, death is a reality that often conditions the relation with the home country. Death is thus here looked upon as a process, which involves specific emotional states and triggers the use of rituals in order to cope with the unavoidable distress, acquiring more complicated aspects when away from home. Using as case study the example of immigrants from Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde in Portugal, this paper will deal with the multiple levels that death touches upon, from the symbolic and religious ones to the more practical ones. Death is one realm in which a transnational approach is mandatory; it entails an intense circulation of material goods and wealth, but also of highly symbolic significant universes which circulate along with the goods and the people: the corpse, but also the spirits and the relations with the other world that people brought along into the diaspora situation.

Author:

Hili Ratzon (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)

Paper short abstract:

Many contemporary Pagan and Wiccan artists choose to use wands as a tool in their religious rituals. This study examines the attributes of the wands, the characteristics of their creators and their reception among the viewers who comment on the creation.

Paper long abstract:

Many contemporary Pagan and Wiccan artists choose to use wands as a tool in their religious rituals. This study examines the attributes of the wands, the characteristics of their creators and their reception among the viewers who comment on the creation.

Social networks allow users to create profiles, upload content and share with other users (Miah, 2011). Creating wands can be considered as a leisure activity which fits the definition of serious leisure: The person who participates in the leisure activity as a hobbyist experiences it as interesting, as fulfilling and as one that can be turned into a career in the future (Stebbins, 2009).

The research method used in this study was content analysis of the 16 hobbyist artists: examine the attributes of the wands by using the artists' explanations on the artwork, the pictures of the wands and the viewers' comments. Most of the artists are female and live in the USA.

According to the findings of this study, almost all artists are either Pagan or Wiccan and are dealing with witchcraft. The artists put a lot of effort in the creation of the wands and try to improve their skills.

Conclusions of this study are that the creation process of the wands is meaningful to the artist and that creativity fills an important role in construction of their religious identity. This activity fits into the frame of serious leisure as the artists get opportunity to turn their hobby into a career by following requests from their viewers.