Study of Religions - Journal Articles

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    Percezioni ibride. Ripensare fenomenologia e semiotica attraverso la Actor-Network-Theory
    (E/C rivista dell’Associazione Italiana di studi semiotici, 2023) Padoan, Tatsuma; British Academy
    It is generally acknowledged that Latour, through his work in STS and his use of concepts borrowed from Paris School semiotics, has given a fundamental contribution to rethinking the status of “objects” in social sciences. However, while using semiotic models, Latour decided to leave out of the picture the phenomenological approach developed in Greimas’s later semiotic contributions, and in the work of many of his successors. Among the reasons for this choice, he mentioned the incapacity of phenomenology to escape a divide between Subjects and Objects, based on a narrow focus on human intentionality. In my paper I wish to return to this issue concerning ANT and phenomenology, and propose to invert the phenomenological paradigm, by rethinking it through a semio-narrative syntax, i.e. the narrative logic underlying the organisation of actants. Instead of inscribing semiotics within a phenomenology of perception, I will show how the opposite path might be more fruitful, especially when the human or nonhuman nature attributed to subjects and objects is a priori undecidable, and only emerges from discourse and actantial interactions, manifesting themselves into hybrid human-nonhuman assemblages. I shall discuss the implications of this reversal, by analysing the relationships between ascetics and mountain territory, as well as between humans, deities, and artefacts, in my ethnography of ascetic pilgrim groups in Katsuragi, central Japan.
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    Creating a community of praxis: integrating global citizenship and development education across campus at University College Cork
    (UCL Press, 2022-12-13) Cotter, Gertrude; Bonenfant, Yvon; Butler, Jenny; Caulfield, Marian; Doyle Prestwich, Barbara; Griffin, Rosarii; Khabbar, Sanaa; Mishra, Nita; Hally, Ruth; Murphy, Margaret; Murphy, Orla; O'Sullivan, Maeve; Phelan, Martha; Reidy, Darren; Schneider, Julia C.; Isaloo, Amin Sharifi; Turner, Brian; Usher, Ruth; Williamson Sinalo, Caroline; Irish Aid
    The Praxis Project, established at University College Cork (UCC), Ireland, in 2018, seeks to assess possible models of best practice with regard to the integration of global citizenship and development education (GCDE) into a cross-disciplinary, cross-campus, interwoven set of subject area pedagogies, policies and practices. This study – the first part of an eventual three-part framework – asserts that the themes, theories, values, skills, approaches and methodologies relevant to transformative pedagogical work are best underpinned by ongoing staff dialogue in order to build communities of support around such systemic pedagogical change. This article is based on a collaborative study with the first cohort of UCC staff (2020–1), which demonstrates many ways in which staff and students realised that smaller actions and carefully directed attention to specific issues opened doors to transformative thinking and action in surprising ways. From this viewpoint, the striking need emerged for taking a strategic approach to how GCDE is, and should be, integrated into learning across subject areas.
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    Pilgrimage and spirit possession: Reconnecting senses, discourse and subjectivity on Mt Kiso Ontake
    (University College Cork, 2021) Padoan, Tatsuma; Cawley, Kevin N.
    While the anthropology of pilgrimage shifted its major paradigm from a focus on sacred sites to one on movement, investigation of sensory bodies, as moving sites for an encounter with spirits and deities, has rarely been undertaken. On the other side the anthropology of senses, although providing a contribution to an understanding of the role of perception in social life, has frequently privileged embodied experience over language and discourse. It might be argued that such an exclusion of discourse from senses has involuntarily reiterated a Modern Divide between language and body, traceable back to a Protestant ideology of separation between interiority and exteriority, belief and ritual. In this paper I will explore the role of language, body and senses in pilgrimage, trying to look beyond such a Western epistemological divide. In so doing, I will focus on a contemporary pilgrimage in Japan, on Mt Kiso Ontake (3067m), where pilgrims visit spirits’ abodes (reijinhi) in order to hear ancestors’ voices coming from the possessed body of a medium (nakaza). Through an ethnographic and semiotic analysis of somatic and oracular interactions between ancestors and pilgrims, I will show how, by opening the individual body of the medium, an intersensory, collective body of human and nonhuman members of the group is constructed. We will thus follow the body-voice of the medium by considering it as a “moving shrine” where, through language, sounds, screams and gestures occurring during the séances (oza), an aesthesic contagion is actualised among pilgrims, and new subjectivities are produced, shattering supposed divisions between sense and senses, discourse and affect.
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    Recalcitrant interactions: Semiotic reflections on fieldwork among mountain ascetics
    (Centro de Pesquisas Sóciossemióticas - CPS, 2021-12-22) Padoan, Tatsuma
    This article explores issues related to ethnographic research, such as “otherness” as a form of relation, the researcher’s position, and the difference between anthropological and native knowledge, leading to the production of ethnographic data that can undermine previously established models. In order to approach these issues, I will refer to the notion of “recalcitrant subjects”, coined by I. Stengers, and based on the idea that we should turn our attention to objects of analysis that are capable of raising new questions, forcing the researchers to reorganise their instruments and theoretical perspectives. Using the interaction regimes formulated by E. Landowski, I will analyse from a semiotic perspective my own field research, conducted within the mountain ascetic group Tsukasak? in Katsuragi, central Japan. The article shows how, far from being based on forms of communality and undifferentiated reciprocity, ethnography and sociality always involve heterogeneous actors and can only emerge from interactions that are inherently recalcitrant.
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    Introduction: Visual Ethics after Communism
    (National Museum of the Romanian Peasant, Bucharest, 2021-11) Crowley, David; Nicolescu, Gabriela; Kapalό, James A.; European Research Council
    This special issue problematizes the often-uncritical use of images in publications and displays about communism. It poses a number of questions for anthropologists, historians, museologists and others: when does an image or a museum display present itself as problematic and for whom? Under what circumstances is it ethically justifiable to exhibit or publish such images or, conversely, to put images aside, leaving them undisplayed? When do arguments based on “the public good” outweigh the right to personal privacy, individual integrity and cultural patrimony of source communities?