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Accepted Paper:

Alternative Religions and a Future of Digital Societies  
Pavel Horák (The Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Ethnology)

Paper short abstract:

We will experience a major rise of alternative religions focusing on nature, the body, and the environment in the future decades. The rise will reflect digital revolution and transformation it bring to Euro-American societies. The paper considers future research for anthropology and related fields.

Paper long abstract:

The paper proposes a future development of alternative religion and spirituality in the Euro-American world and suggests a forthcoming research agenda for anthropology and related fields. The paper argues that we will experience a significant rise of modern paganism, earth/eco spiritualities or esoteric currents dealing with environment, body, and nature in the upcoming decades. This rise will be a reaction to the climate crisis and speedy technological development in ER, AI, metaverses, or other technologies that are likely yet to come, like digital state coins. As the new digital technologies form non-physical spaces, modern pagans and others will stress this-worldly religious ontologies and nature-spiritual environments, including human and other-than-human bodies. This rise, in turn, will also bear strong political appeal – from a return-to-the nature claims to a rejection of technology and science, which might get a radical form. I will support my argument in three ways. Firstly, I use a historical comparison with the emergence of occultism in the late nineteenth century, which was a reaction to the industrial revolution and changes within European societies. Similarly, we are currently experiencing a new technological revolution, which will transform our societies' form and impact the religious domain. Secondly, I analyse the rising popularity of modern paganism and similar environmental or ‘dark green religions’ (Taylor 2010) as evidence of this rise in Europe and the United States. Thirdly, I consider relations between human and non-human digital actors and connect the debates on alternative religions and digital anthropology.

Panel P44a
Futurology: anthropological containment and delivery
  Session 1 Friday 10 June, 2022, -