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June 2020 Kansai SIETAR: Hell is a Place on Earth: Feeling and Managing Ghosts in Contemporary Osorezan, Aomori, and in Kyoto

Speaker: Andrea De Antoni (Ritsumeikan University)

Date: Time: 14:00-16:30
 ZOOM Online Presentation * Registration Required

Fee: Free for all who register

Language: English

Description of the program:

While we may enjoy singing the song, ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth,’ this session will look seriously at ‘Hell is a place on earth.’ This refers to Osorezan (literally translated as ‘Fear Mountain’), which is the place in Aomori where Japanese mythology says the spirits of the dead gather. The presenter has visited many haunted places from Osorezan to Kyoto, and as an anthropologist has done extensive ethnographic research both in and outside of Japan.

Existing academic literature tends to analyze hauntings in a metaphorical sense, focusing on meaning making, social memory or hope, and it does not sufficiently consider peoples’ actual experiences with ghosts. De Antoni notes that hauntings are fundamentally affective—they are ‘practices of feeling with the world.’ He will shed light on the processes through which bodily perceptions and discourses of social memory are entangled. He will discuss the relationships between and among bodily feelings, the environment, and power. Be forewarned, do NOT ask the speaker if he ‘believes’ in ghosts and spirits. He is agnostic and adheres to the researcher code of retaining an objective stance, yet to ‘take different worlds seriously.’

Profile of speaker:

Andrea De Antoni is an Italian anthropologist at Ritsumeikan University, where he teaches socio-cultural anthropology and religious studies. His research interests include perceptions of space, identity and discrimination, religion and religious healing, experiences with spirits, spirit possession and exorcism. He is currently studying spirit/demonic possession and exorcism in contemporary Japan, Italy, and Austria from a comparative perspective.