Donnerstag, 23. Mai 2019, 18:30 - 20:00 iCal

Livin' On The Edge

Towards a Comparison of Experiences with Spirit Possession in Contemporary Japan and Italy

Andrea DE ANTONI (Ritsumeikan University; Kyôto)


Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften-Japanologie, Seminarraum JAP 1
Spitalgasse 2, UniversitätsCampus Hof 2, Eingang 2.4, 1090 Wien


This talk constitutes an attempt to elaborate a comparative perspective on phenomena of possession in contemporary Japan and Italy, in an attempt to “capture that moment of transcendence in which perception begins, and, in the midst of arbitrariness and indeterminacy, constitutes and is constituted by culture” (Csordas 2002: 61). Experiences with spirits have been analysed as not confined to event formats, emerging as form specific feelings and perceptions of the body moving-in-the-world (De Antoni 2017). In this paper, while relying on ethnographic data about experiences with spirits among people who undergo Roman Catholic exorcism in contemporary (Central) Italy and Shinto exorcism in contemporary Japan (Shikoku), I focus on the symptoms from which the border between spirits perceived as external or as internal emerges, also analysing the role of “embodied memories” of certain symptoms or feelings and how they can be “transmitted.” I argue that a comparative analysis of what feelings are embodied and ‘remembered,’ what kinds of perceptions contribute to the emergence of spirits as internal or external, and of how such entanglements shape discourses and institutions, can shed new light on the efficacy of medical and religious/spiritual healing.

Andrea De Antoni (Ph.D.) is associate professor of anthropology and religious studies at Ritsumeikan University (Kyoto, Japan) and main editor of the Japan Anthropology Workshop (JAWS) Newsletter. He is author of Going to Hell in Contemporary Japan: Feeling Landscapes of the Afterlife, Othering, Memory and Materiality (Routledge, forthcoming 2019), editor of Death and Desire in Modern and Contemporary Japan (Venice University Press, 2017, with M. Raveri and “Feeling (with) Japan: Affective, Sensory and Material Entanglements in the Field” (Special Issue of Asian Anthropology, forthcoming 2019, with E. Cook). He is also the coordinator of the international research network “Skills of Feeling with the World: Anthropological Research on the Senses, Affect and Materiality,” based in Ritsumeikan University.


Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften/Japanologie und AAJ (Akademischer Arbeitskreis Japan)


Mag. Angela Kramer
Universität Wien
Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften - Japanologie