Journal of the Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions (JISASR). Vol. 7, (2019)

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    Marginalized centre: Wana people and the geography of power
    (ISASR in association with the Study of Religions, University College Cork/Journal of the British Association for the Study of Religions, 2020) Scalici, Giorgio
    The Wana of Morowali (Indonesia) are nowadays a small endangered community marginalized by the Indonesian government, world religions and the other communities in the area but, according to their own mythology, they are not the periphery of the world, but the real centre of it. Their cosmogonic myth tellshow the Wana land (Tana Taa) was the first land placed on the primordial waters and it was full of mythical power, apower that, when the land was spread around the world to create the continents, abandoned the Wana to donate wealth and power to the edge of the world: the West. This myth has a pivotal role in the Wana worldview, their categorization of the world and the power relationships in it. The Wana reverse the traditional relationship between centre and periphery, placing themselves in a powerless centre (the village or the Tana Taa) that gave all its power to a periphery(the jungle or the West) that must be explored to obtain power and knowledge. This relationship not only expresses a clear agency in shaping the relationship of power with forces way stronger than the Wana (Government and world religions) but also creates internal hierarchies based on the access to this knowledge; granted to men and partially precluded to women due to the cultural characterizations of these genders. Indeed, the majority of shamans, called tau walia(human-spirit), are men, and they are the only one that can travel between the human and the spiritual world, obtaining a spiritual and social power.In this article, we will see how Wana categorise the world and use religion, rituality and gender to express their agency to cope with the marginalization by the government, the world religions and the other community in the area
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    Post-lineage yoga: adventures in social media engagement
    (ISASR in association with the Study of Religions, University College Cork/Journal of the British Association for the Study of Religions, 2019) Wildcroft, Theodora
    The positionality of the researcher has long been of debate. Within ethnographic research into cultural practices, a world of nuance arises in the possible relationships of researcher and researched. We are engaged in complex processes of reconciliation between the under-represented communities whose stories we aim to tell (Shaw 1999: 108; Orsi 2013: 5), and the power an academic position confers to “define reality for others” (Hufford 1999: 298). The resulting implications for the researcher are further complicated and enriched when public interest in our work is mediated in online environments. As scholars we are often ill-equipped to ride fast-moving flows of misinformation and meme, rumour and trolling. Towards the end of my doctoral research, an academic term from my thesis became caught up in the increasingly heated spaces of yoga-related social media. In this article, I step back from the situation to share a snapshot of what happens when academics go viral, and to deconstruct the little-understood processes of subcultural evolution at work. I ask: what can we learn from these encounters about the nature of boundaries between scholar and practitioner, researcher and researched, professional and personal? And how might academic discourse and engagement evolve to meet the challenges of an online economy of knowledge?
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    Itako on screen: the use of visual ethnography for understanding how these Japanese shamans are adapting to social change
    (ISASR in association with the Study of Religions, University College Cork/Journal of the British Association for the Study of Religions, 2019) Vecchi, Ilaria
    This article is based on my fieldwork with Itako shamans in the north-eastern part of Japan. The progressive modernisation of Japan at the expense of rural areas has also affected Tohoku, resulting in the ageing of the social fabric of its communities. Within this context, this article focusses on traditional and established activitiespractised by the blind female Itakoshamans, who are going through a process of adaptation. Therefore, the article is concerned with this process and,in particular, on the methodology applied before and during my fieldwork experience of spending time, observing, having conversations, and filming these women in their everyday life. In the attempt to understand and document these shamans, I consider the use of visual ethnographic methods for understanding the changing aspects and their implications on the life of these women. While doing this, I also considered their communities and the area in which they live. I analyse this process by blending different methodologies such as visual methodology and digital visual ethnography and the critical religion approach proposed by Fitzgerald (2000). In addition, the paper will describe how I applied this methodology to provide a fresh look at these women and their daily activity
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    The marginality of ‘Irish Mormonism’: confronting Irish boundaries of belonging
    (ISASR in association with the Study of Religions, University College Cork/Journal of the British Association for the Study of Religions, 2019) O'Brien, Hazel
    This article builds upon existing literature which demonstrates the complex interconnections of Catholicism, Irishness, and whiteness in the Republic of Ireland. Using this multifaceted inter-relationship between religious, national, and racial identities as its starting point, this article analyses negotiations of Irishness, community, and belonging amongst adherents of Mormonismin Ireland. This article firstly argues that as members of a minority religion Mormons in Ireland of all backgrounds are stigmatised and marginalised from Irish narratives of ‘belonging’. Secondly, this article determines that as the majority of Mormons in Ireland are white Irish, in keeping with the majority population, they view themselves and are viewed by others as both insiders and outsiders within their own country. Thirdly, this article demonstrates how Mormons in Ireland with racialised identities also navigate a complex system of racial, religious, and national affiliations. Thus, this article establishes that Mormons of all backgrounds in Ireland struggle to gain acceptance and belonging within the national narrative of belonging. Finally, this article identifies the processes through which Mormons in Ireland work to create belonging to the national narrative. For some, emphasising their identity as Christian is a way to find commonality with the majority Catholic population in Ireland. For others, a celebration and reinterpretation of Irishness is used as a tool to build a dual sense of belonging; to others within an increasingly diverse Mormon community in Ireland, and to the wider society.
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    The border, the Laggan and the professor
    (ISASR in association with the Study of Religions, University College Cork/Journal of the British Association for the Study of Religions, 2019) Macourt, Malcolm P. A.
    The physical boundary (‘the border’) between Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland has featured as a crucial part in relationships across the island, not least in the negotiations between the UK and the EU over Brexit. Under the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921, a Boundary Commission was established with Professor Eoin MacNeill as the representative of the Irish Free State. It started its work after the civil war in the Irish Free State (1922-23) had ceased. It almost achieved its objective of a revised border. With the agreement of all sides, the major source of data was religion in the 1911 Census, but individual returns were not made available to the Commission. The areas agreed for transfer involved large majorities of Catholics to the Free State and large majorities of Protestants to the North. The only exception was the Laggan in northeast Donegal, an area with a small Protestant majority. At the last moment MacNeill withdrew, the Commission could not produce a unanimous report, therefore its report was unenforceable and it remained secret for over 40 years. The 1911 Census forms became available in the new millennium permitting detailed examination of the Laggan. This paper addresses the outcomes of the Commission’s work and questions whether there was a particular problem which caused MacNeill to withdraw. Speculation on MacNeill’s activity in this exercise is offered and related to his official reasons for sinking the Commission.