This panel explores how local actors and anthropologists think about present-day expressions of religion, spirituality, the occult and the esoteric. Papers based on case studies examine how practices, beliefs and rituals are combined to connect the spirit world to modern social contexts.
This panel proposes to explore how local actors and anthropologists think about and inhabit contemporary expressions of religion, spirituality, the occult and the esoteric. For decades, anthropologists have acknowledged the contemporaneity of rituals, beliefs and practices related to the world of spirit in different times and geographical spaces. Anthropologists have long observed the plasticity of these patterns as well as their capacity to renew themselves and adapt to changing social contexts. Their vitality has been noted in diverse forms such as in processes of economic accumulation, urbanization, political and social postcolonial violence, experiences of healing and persisting possession cults, the use of Internet, love potions and other fields of human relations. Building on this anthropological literature, papers in this panel examine how various practices, beliefs and rituals are combined to connect the spirit world to modern social contexts. In which types of spaces (social and physical) do they emerge? How can anthropologists describe the place of migrating spirits in religious mobility? And, how can anthropologists conceptualize the moving frontier between the world of spirit, esoteric knowledge and the mundane? Papers included in this double panel are based on specific case studies, including religious communities, particular spiritual, religious and esoteric practices, religious and occult specialists, and so forth in North America, Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia. Papers included in this double panel can be presented in French or English.