Research into role of spirits and the spiritual power of objects has undergone a paradigmatic shift reflective of the ontological turn in contemporary anthropology. This panel explores the privatization and dissemination of this knowledge in evolving ethnographic research methodologies and analyses.
Ethnographic research into spirit-mediumship, shamanism, witchcraft and religious phenomena has undergone a paradigmatic shift reflective of the ontological turn in contemporary anthropology, new research giving recognition to the role of spirits and to the spiritual power of objects in religious practices. New ethnographic research methods and theoretical approaches are therefore developing to integrate emic ontological spiritual worlds into the broader scope of normative etic analysis. Fiona Bowie has suggested that "Western academic approaches often rely on the juxtaposition between "our" rational and "their" irrational belief systems, and attempt to "explain away" or ignore emic interpretations with a subsequent loss of semantic density", and suggests "adopting an emic interpretive lens in order to arrive at a "thick description" that does not shy away from aspects of experience outside the ethnographer's Weltanschauung (world view)". Such approaches remove the monopoly on sacred, spiritual and religious knowledge held by religious specialists as emic understandings and knowledge are increasingly integrated into ethnographic research and anthropological analysis. This disseminates into the public sphere through anthropological publications, conferences, and through new social media. This panel would like to invite potential participants to explore dimensions of the privatization, revelation and dissemination of religious and spiritual knowledge through evolving ethnographic research methodologies and analyses based on previous or on-going research in any region of the world. Topics of specific interest include: 1. Spirit-mediumship and spirit possession 2. Shamanism 3. Religious ritual / magic 4. Religious / spiritual belief systems 6. Contemporary witchcraft 7. Spirit power and material culture