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- ItemMysticism: No Experience Necessary?(British Association for the Study of Religions (BASR), 2006) Bocking, BrianRobert Sharf argues that if a religious or mystical experience conveys any meaning at all, that meaning derives from shared public discourse, not from the experience as such. Sharf’s argument is, or should be, unsettling for anyone who naively thinks that religious beliefs are grounded in religious experiences. In this paper I examine Sharf’s arguments and suggest another way of approaching the notion of mystical or religious experience within the study of religions. Distinguishing between mystical experience and mystical teachings can help to explain how ‘experience’ can retain a meaningful place in mysticism.
- ItemTracing the non-denominational in Japan and the UK(Turkish Association for the History of Religions, 2008-12) Bocking, Brian
- ItemClerical agency and the politics of scriptural translation: the 'canonisation' of the Gagauz language in southern Bessarabia(Legenda, 2010) Kapalό, James A.; Pyrah, Robert; Turda, Marius
- ItemThe Study of Religions in a Smart Society - UCC Inaugural Lecture(2010-01-20) Bocking, Brian
- ItemDei treni e dei riti. Politiche ferroviarie e memoria estetico-rituale nella Tokyo contemporanea(Aracne, 2012) Padoan, Tatsuma; Mangano, D.; Mattozzi, A.
- ItemThe first Buddhist mission to the West: Charles Pfoundes and the London Buddhist mission of 1889 – 1892(British Association for the Study of Religions (BASR), 2014) Bocking, Brian; Cox, Laurence; Yoshinaga, Shin'ichiThis article challenges two general assumptions shared by scholars of Western Buddhism: (1) that the earliest Buddhist missions to the West were those established in California from 1899 onwards; and (2) that Ananda Metteyya‘s (Allan Bennett‘s) London mission of 1908 was the first Buddhist mission to London and thus to Europe. Recent collaborative research by scholars in Ireland and Japan demonstrates instead that the Japanese-sponsored ‗Buddhist Propagation Society‘ (BPS) launched in London in 1889 and led for three years by the Irish-born Japanese Buddhist Charles Pfoundes predates both of the above-mentioned ‗first‘ Buddhist missions. In this article we offer a first attempt to document the nature, activities and significance of the London BPS, drawing on Japanese and UK sources to examine Pfoundes‘ role and that of his Japanese sponsors. We discuss the nature of Pfoundes‘ Buddhism, the strategy and activities of the London BPS and the reasons for its eventual demise. The conclusion examines the links between the BPS and the later ‗first‘ Japanese Buddhist missions in California and asks what hidden connection there might be between Pfoundes‘ missionary campaign in London in 1889-92 and Ananda Metteyya‘s return from Burma as the ‗first‘ Buddhist missionary to London, almost two decades later.
- ItemDrawn by images: control, subversion and contamination in the visual discourse of Tokyo metro(Università di Torino, 2014-11) Padoan, TatsumaThis paper intends to investigate the active role of images in shaping contemporary urban life, by exploring the trail of strategies, actions, counteractions and transformations produced by a particular corpus of subway posters. Since September 1974, the Tokyo Metro subway company has been distributing a series of posters which invites, in a humoristic style, to respect the “good manners” inside its stations and trains in service in the Japanese capital. The name assigned to these adverts is Manner Poster. The three editions from 2008 to 2010 are particularly striking for their irony and visual impact. Produced by the graphic designer Yorifuji Bunpei, they depict — in a comic–strip style and using white, black and yellow colours — narrative situations inside the subway stations and trains, where one or more persons perform, under the astonished eyes of the other passengers, actions considered as “ill–mannered”. The images present a large variety of such situations, ranging from occupying priority seats for elderly people and pregnant women, to rushing to board as the doors are closing, from throwing waste tissues on the ground, to blocking entrances with suitcases and backpacks. They actually suggest paradoxical narrative sequences, visual hyperboles which exaggerate actions considered as impolite, trying to emphasize the negative effects on the other passengers. And the messages written above the images do not leave any doubts about the target (Enunciatee) of the posters: “Please do it at home”, says the one above the instant ramen (noodles soup) devourer, “Please do it at the office” says the message over the businessman engaged in writing notes while talking on the phone in the train. According to the author Yorifuji, the messages convey “the repressed frustration of the typical commuter” who is emotionally affected by the impolite behaviour. These posters, in other words, construct a form of subjectivity for the metro passengers, posing everyone under the gaze/judgment of the other commuters, and prescribing situations and places which are appropriated to take specific courses of action. They are “regulators of the social life”, which charge everyday actions with thymic — i.e. positive or negative — values, according to their spatial–temporal localisation. However, the analysis of this “subway etiquette” discourse and of its development along the three editions, reveals a particular linguistic and visual differentiation of identity, which points to models of behaviour and sociality very different between each other, according to the Japanese or foreign origin of the passengers to which the poster’s persuasive action is directed. I will therefore try to demonstrate, on the one hand, how the interactions between poster–actors and human actors try to define distinct regimes of political enunciation (Latour 1999), on the other hand, how parodic translations of the Manner Posters — which immediately proliferated on web–sites and magazines in Japan — also lead to modes of negotiation of the values and social bonds prescribed.
- ItemTalom Rukbo and the Donyipolo Yelam Kebang: restructuring Adi religious practices in Arunachal Pradesh, Northeast India(University College Cork, 2016) Scheid, Claire; Guzy, Lidia Julianna; Irish Research Council; College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, University College CorkThe purpose of this dissertation is to examine and contextualize the recent changes in the articulation of Donyipolo faith among the indigenous community of the Adi from the 1980s until the present. This is achieved by documenting both ‘non-formalized’ and ‘formalized’ belief and ritual within this Eastern Himalayan community. Since the mid-1980s, the Adi – led by indigenous activist Talom Rukbo and the Donyipolo Yelam Kebang (Donyipolo Faith Council) – have been restructuring Donyipolo to fit the model of more mainstream religions via a series of processes that could be called ‘formalization’ or ‘institutionalization’, a reformation blueprint that has subsequently spread to neighboring ethnic groups. This ethnography, exploring both folk practice and the modern reformation, is rooted in radical empiricism – in this context, meaning to collect data and allow analysis to arise organically. Radical empiricism is employed alongside vernacular theorizing to allow for the acknowledgement of indigenous theory through which we can trace indigenous agencies and the construction of indigenous lifeworlds. Facilitating this space for the acknowledgement of ‘religious re-imaginings’ as a means of cultural preservation – and as a representation of creativity – is significant particularly when viewed in the context of contemporary research on similar movements in Northeast India, which sometimes tends toward the negation of indigenous innovation by representing such religious revivals as conversion tools attributed to the Hindu right. It is hoped that the reader will come away from this dissertation with an understanding of the ‘constellations of faith’ that comprise ‘traditional’ Donyipolo and a comprehension of the innovative institutionalization processes that have shaped the new Adi praxis. Donyipolo should be viewed as a complex, nuanced, and independent indigenous faith, whether in its forms of folk expressions or in its new structure as expressed through the Donyipolo Yelam Kebang.
- Item'Blood' kinship and kinship in Christ's blood: nomadic evangelism in the Nenets tundra(De Gruyter Open Ltd, 2017) Vagramenko, TatianaThe article addresses a conflicting encounter of two ideologies of kinship, ‘natural’and ‘religious’, among the newly established Evangelical communities of Nenets in the Polar Ural and Yamal tundra. An ideology of Christian kinship, as an outcome of ‘spiritual re-birth’, was introduced through Nenets religious conversion. The article argues that although the born-again experience often turned against ancestral traditions and Nenets traditional kinship ties, the Nenets kinship system became a platform upon which the conversion mechanism was furthered and determined in the Nenets tundra. The article examines missionary initiatives and Nenets religiosity as kin-based activities, the outcome of which was twofold. On one side, it was the realignment of Nenets traditional kinship networks. On other side, it was the indigenisation of the Christian concept of kinship according to native internal cultural logic. Evangelical communities in the tundra were plunged into the traditional practices of Nenets kinship networks, economic exchanges, and marriage alliances. Through negotiation of traditional Nenets kinship and Christian kinship, converted Nenets developed new imaginaries, new forms of exchanges, and even new forms of mobility.iage alliances. Through negotiation of traditional Nenets kinship and Christian kinship, converted Nenets developed new imaginaries, new forms of exchanges, and even new forms of mobility.
- ItemAlfred Elmore: life, work and context(University College Cork, 2017) de Bhailís, Caoimhín; Dooley, BrendanAlfred Elmore R.A. was a prominent and prolific Anglo-Irish artist during the nineteenth-century. Since his death, in 1881, he has largely disappeared from the study of Art History with the exception of a few of his works that have been examined in terms of gender studies of the period. It has also been asserted that other paintings from his oeuvre exhibit anti-Catholic tendencies. This thesis seeks to reposition the artist and his religious paintings as being, if not overtly pro-Catholic, at least neutral in their intention. As a painter across all genres of the period, Elmore’s narrative paintings suggest a unique approach to ‘narrative’ painting that allows the viewer free-play in the construction of internal, imaginative, narrative creation. Elmore’s narrative paintings will be compared with familiar works by other artists of the period in order to locate these paintings within the genre and highlight his approach to rendering narrative. Described as ‘ahead of his time’ Elmore’s drawings display a modernity that belies his nineteenth-century, British context and allows for a reassessment of the status of British artistic practice during that period. As an exercise in connoisseurship and contextual interpretation, this thesis proposes that Elmore was an artist who either was a unique and exceptional artist in his output and mode of creation or that an examination of other neglected artists of the period that might exhibit similar artistic properties to Elmore will allow a renewed evaluation of British art and artists of the Victorian era.
- ItemReligious reformers in Britain at the turn of the twentieth century: the visits of Abdul Baha(University College Cork, 2017) McNamara, Brendan; Scharbrodt, Oliver; Kapalo, James Alexander; University College CorkThe central theme of this work is an examination of the contribution made by home-grown reformers to the construction of new religious frameworks in Britain at the turn of the twentieth century. I focus on the evolution of a worldview oriented towards Asia and key individuals that sought interaction with religious ideas from the ‘East’. I will take as a case study the reception in Britain of the head of the Bahai religion, Abdul Baha, who visited in 1911 and again in late 1912. Through an analysis of the discourses he was invited to engage with, and the reasons his British hosts pursued these encounters, I recover lost aspects of what was a vibrant and multidimensional religious ‘field’. This will necessitate a review of why and how scholars of the new ‘science of religion’, ‘Celticists’, leading Protestant reformers and others expended much energy in supporting the Bahai leader’s public programme as he progressed through Britain. These interactions and their prominent promoters, significant in the context of the history of religions in Europe, are now mostly ‘forgotten’ or are ‘remembered’ in a particular fashion. Endeavouring to answer why these events are consigned as a footnote in history exposes a complex nexus of factors bearing on agency, myopic interpretation and the manner in which this history has been captured and interpreted. A key factor is the effect of the catastrophic conflagration which beset the world in 1914 on universalist worldviews. The figures analysed in this thesis were exponents of ideas and philosophies that are familiar in the present. Consideration of their experience illuminates similar contemporary discursive trends and leads me to posit the aetiology of such religious journeying as occurring long before it is generally thought such ideas were prevalent. Notwithstanding their eclectic interests, an important component in the construction of this discursive environment was the operation of a particular ‘filter’, one which still favoured Christianity as a pleroma.
- ItemRepresenting Sikhism: Essays in memory of the Irish scholar Max Arthur Macauliffe(ISASR in association with the Study of Religions, University College Cork, 2017) Shackle, Christopher; Bocking, BrianThis is an introduction, by the guest editors, to the special issue of JISASR (Vol 4, 2017) entitled 'Representing Sikhism: Essays in Memory of the Irish Scholar Max Arthur Macauliffe'. The genesis of this special issue lies in pioneering work on Macauliffe's Irish identity and personal and scholarly life undertaken by Professor Tadhg Foley (Galway). The active interest and support of members of the Sikh community in Ireland led to a conference, hosted by the Study of Religions Department at University College Cork, held to mark the centennial of Macauliffe's death on 15 March 1913. After some brief comments on past and present trends in the study of Ireland-Asia connections in the field of religions, we discuss Macauliffe's significance for modern representations of Sikhism and offer some contextual observations on each of the four papers. The article concludes with a brief resumé of the 2013 conference at which the papers were originally presented.
- Item"Liminal" orthodoxies on the margins of empire: Twentieth-century "home-grown" religious movements in the Republic of Moldova(Taylor & Francis, 2017-01-20) Kapalό, James A.; European Research Council; Horizon 2020; Royal Irish AcademyIn the 20th century, the Russian Orthodox Church, the Romanian Orthodox Church, and the Soviet atheist state each pursued missions that attempted to transform Moldovans into loyal and trustworthy subjects and to integrate them into new state structures. This article explores the "liminal" character of Moldovan identities forged on the Russian and Romanian borderlands through the prism of Moldova's "home-grown" religious movements. Grassroots movements led by charismatic and "trickster" religious figures "played" with dichotomies of the hidden and the revealed, innovation and tradition, and human and divine, succeeding in transforming the subject positions of whole segments of Moldovan peasant society. The resulting forms of "liminal" Orthodoxy have proved enduring, perpetually critiquing and transgressing canonical norms from the margins and subverting the discourses and narratives that seek to "harmonize" identities and to consolidate nation, state, and church in the Republic of Moldova.
- ItemPer una semiotica della possessione oracolare: sensi e discorso sul monte Kiso Ontake(Mimesis, 2017-12) Padoan, Tatsuma; Raveri, M.; Tarca, L. V.
- ItemEtnografia e semiotica: su divinità, asceti, pietre, e altri soggetti recalcitranti(Edizioni Nuova Cultura, 2018) Padoan, Tatsuma; Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
- ItemThe Theosophical Society and politics: esoteric discourse, esoteric monism, and theosophical identity in late 19th and early 20th century Britain and Ireland(University College Cork, 2018) Colin, Duggan; Butler, Jenny; Bocking, BrianThis thesis addresses the connection between esotericism and political ideas in the formative decades of the Theosophical Society, including Irish dimensions. The Theosophical Society provided the most influential and widespread forum for esoteric discourse in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This thesis examines how the introduction of the term ‘universal brotherhood’ as one of the Society’s core principles led to an increase in political discourse among the membership of a supposedly ‘neutral’ and apolitical institution. It argues that political and social reform-inspired interpretations of this idea helped to legitimise calls for theosophists to involve themselves more practically in improving the conditions of society. The resulting debates about universal brotherhood brought two of the Society’s other central ideas under scrutiny; the individualist nature of spiritual evolution and the neutrality of the Society with respect to individual beliefs, such as the belief in guiding masters. These three topics were debated and negotiated in the Society’s journals, among a global network of publishers and authors. In this thesis, contributions from two significant periods in the Society’s history are discussed in detail to highlight their centrality. One is the period leading up to the secession, in 1895, of the American Section, under the leadership of William Q. Judge. The second examines the events of Annie Besant’s presidency that led to her eventual rejection of the principle of neutrality in 1916. Several Irish individuals are discussed to demonstrate the importance of esoteric discourse to their political actions and it is argued that the concept of ‘esoteric monism’ provides the most cogent explanation for the connection between esotericism and politics in these cases.