This panel discusses various religious phenomena that reveal the complexity of religious and ritual practices in multiethnic and/or multicultural situations, which cannot be simply understood by the existing religious category.
Anthropology has been long interested in change or alteration in cultural and religious practices often caused by close and constant contact between different groups (ethnic or others). These changes have been often explained in terms of acculturation or syncretism. Today, various effects of globalization and modernization, which stimulate to intensify contact with different people from different cultures and different ideas without necessarily entailing direct contact with them, can sometimes lead to more complex situations than before. While religious fundamentalist movements in different regions have been making news in the world for several decades, the process of change or alteration in religious practices is often proceeding at local level sometimes in more unnoticeable way. Carefully considering the process makes the existing religious category difficult to adopt to fully understand the situations, and this inspires us to search for alternative theoretical frameworks.
This panel, examining from both local and global perspectives, various religious and ritual practices in multiethnic and/or multicultural situations of different parts of the world, demonstrates their complexity, which is revealed in such diverse ways as ambiguity of the borders between different religions, fluidity of religious identity, association of factors of different religions, reevaluation of one's own culture and religion in relation to another, emergence of a ritual with reference to the tradition. By showing various local practices based on the ethnographical research in different areas of the world, we hope to present some theoretical perspectives to understand old and new religious phenomena.