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Social Anthropology: Events


Introducing Occult Anthropology

Introducing Occult Anthropology
Speaker: Peter Geschiere # University of Amsterdam
Hosted by
Introduced by
Date and Time
28th Apr 2017 10:00 - 28th Apr 2017 17:00
Screening Room, 50 George Square, Edinburgh

An Anthropology of Religion Symposium

This symposium aims to critique logocentric knowledge production in the academy and think through alternatives from the vantage of the occult, broadly defined. Occult Anthropology does not seek to explain ethnographic encounters with the occult, but to instead harness the occult as theory.

Thus, it seeks to breathe new life into debates in the anthropology of religion, which fetishizes the occult by consistently occulting the “natural” and demystifying the “supernatural”, producing a neat inversion, yet remains haunted by epistemological paradoxes and category mistakes (Lambek 2012). For instance, Evans-Pritchard (1947) famously claimed that the Azande make sense of misfortune morally and psychologically through their belief in witchcraft, sparking a long-running debate on scientific rationalism and humanistic relativism.

The ontogeny and ontological status of the occult is ambiguous: The image of possession captures the spirit of anthropology, bridging scholarly obsessions, being-in-the-(other)world, narrative world-making as well as the silences of the subconscious. In our ethnographic “ghost writing”, we seek to become mediums to manifold voices. Like ethnographic theory, the occult juxtaposes analytical dichotomies, while also undermining them.

Research students are warmly invited to submit titles for 12-minute presentations by 20th February 2017.

The event will feature an expert panel of University of Edinburgh staff and conclude with a keynote by the internationally acclaimed expert on magic, ritual, and knowledge practices, Peter Geschiere:

"The Occult and Its Dilemmas:

Do we have to sacrifice academic clarity to grasp the power of the murky?"

For more information or to submit presentation titles, please contact the main organiser, Catherine Whittaker:

Co-organisers: Inna Z. Yaneva-Toraman, Malgorzata Stelmaszyk

Edinburgh Students