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Author:Eugenia Roussou (CRIA, ISCTE-IUL)
Paper short abstract:
Based on long-term fieldwork with a Greek spiritual healer, this paper explores how the 'transreligious' experiences of the anthropologist leads to epistemological challenges with regard to ethnographic knowledge and intense encounters with the spiritual cosmos in the field.
Paper long abstract:
This paper introduces the notion of 'transreligiosity', by exploring the ethnographic and epistemological challenges that the researcher faces through embodying spirituality, experiencing extra-sensory perception and communicating with the spiritual world. Drawing on long-term fieldwork with a spiritual healer who combines Brazilian spiritism, Buddhism, and (neo)Shamanism, among others, in her spiritual healing practice in Athens, Greece, I will provide an account of the personal and ethnographic 'transreligious' trajectories I followed through my encounter with the Greek spiritual healer and my active participation in her healing groups. Adopting a self-reflexive approach of embodying spirituality and opening up to experience the spiritual beyond my role as a 'social scientist', I will explain how I have tried to resist 'objectified' epistemological reification and 'reinvent' the acquisition of epistemological knowledge through an intensively personal bodily involvement in the field. I will argue for an anthropology of 'transreligiosity', the epistemological value of which is centred around open spiritual boundaries, spi/ritual fluidity, creative ethnographic methodology through embodied spiritual experience and (extra)sensory perception, and the transcendence of boundaries between the ethnographic and the personal, the 'scientific' and the 'empirical', the 'objective' and 'subjective' epistemological and anthropological knowledge.
Other Worlds, Other Bodies?: Ethnography, Experience and Epistemological Embodiment