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Living with other-than-human beings in uncertain times: demons, spirits, apparitions in ethnographic and historical perspectives 
Jiří Dynda (The Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Slavonic Studies)
Pavel Horák (The Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Ethnology)
Jenny Butler (University College Cork)
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Thursday 8 June, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Prague

Short Abstract:

Our panel invites historical and ethnographic approaches to research spirits, demons, deities, apparitions and other-than-human beings to stimulate an interdisciplinary debate. While adopting symmetric lenses, we encourage panellists to reflect on un/certainty vis-a-vis other-than-human beings.

Long Abstract:

The panel discusses relations between humans and other-than-human beings, notably various demons, spirits, earth-beings, deities, apparitions, ghosts, or folklore boogies, in times of un/certainty. Traditionally, scholars argued that the beliefs in the "supernatural" emerged in times of broader societal uncertainty and crises or as a peculiar reaction to modernity. Also, the scholarship employed various categories and heuristics ("Slavic demons", "Celtic gods") to make sense of and systematise ethnic, national, or religious communities and their beliefs and customs. Nevertheless, any uncertainty mirrors itself in attempts to create a new order - a certainty - and thus face the unsure presence. Hence, we suggest considering both uncertainty and its opposite together as time spaces creating or shaking the old/new orders, as situations when new beliefs emerge and transgress deep-rooted symbolic systems, dogmata, and norms.

Given the entangled nature of other-than-human beings and their relation to social order, norms, beliefs, values, and scholarship on the subject thus far, we invite papers using symmetric lenses, critically reflecting on the older scholarship. The symmetric approach surpasses older research perspectives, which often questioned the rationality of "believers" in other-than-human beings. Despite these beings are ontologically valid entities since they entangle humans through narratives, stories, places, names, concepts, objects, and other phenomena. Also, we invite both ethnographic and historical papers as we wish to put into mutual conversation different disciplines and approaches in the panel.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Thursday 8 June, 2023, -
Session 2 Thursday 8 June, 2023, -