'Wayward Shrines and Temples: ethnographic rhizomes in Asia and beyond', EASA Conference, Lisbon, 21st-24th July 2020

Valentina Gamberi's picture
Call for Papers
December 4, 2019 to January 20, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Asian History / Studies, Historic Preservation, Religious Studies and Theology

Today, temples and other religious sites in Asia and Asian diaspora provide space for non-religious practices that run in parallel or blend with worship and other religious activities: in Thailand, temples serve as local museum exhibitions for the community's cultural assets and history; in Japan, shrines are visited by mangas' fans for recreating their favorite locations, whereas folk deities in Taiwan sustain political campaigns or watch movies with neighbors. Local shrines and temples also express urban empowerment, as well as negotiations with, alternatives to, critiques of contemporary and/or global ways of life: "subaltern", "rebel" or diasporic groups claim their own space and voice, whilst grassroots movements reframe temples as tools for community inclusion and self-awareness. These validations of subalternity, marginality and alterity are sustained by the mimetic and metamorphic features of sacred force, what Elison (2018) called "selective enchantment": sacredness attracts public attention by transforming ordinary or neglected spaces, such as bus stops in slums. Rather than enforcing certain trite dichotomies (sacred/secular, East/West), these phenomena can be viewed as Deleuzian rhizomes. With "rhizome", we want to emphasize the concept of agencement: a relationship of multiplicities in constant metamorphosis and adaptation to time and power dynamics, thereby not reducible either to "canonical"/"official" spaces, narratives, and practices or to the sum of distinct "agents". By adopting intersectional thinking, we would like to dialogue with papers that address these metamorphoses and adaptations, thereby suggesting a new theoretical and ethnographic framework to contemporary anthropology.

Paper proposals must be submitted online through EASA's portal. Instructions for submission are available here.


Elison, William (2018). The Neighborhood of Gods: the Sacred and the Visible at the Margins of Mumbai, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. 

Contact Info: 

This panel is co-organized by Valentina Gamberi (Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica) and Pijika Pumketkao (UMR AUSser/IPRAUS/ENSA PB, UMR Prodig) for the biannual conference of the European Association for Social Anthropologists. If you have any questions related to the panel or the conference, do not hesitate to contact us via valentina.gamberi87@gmail.com and pijika.pumketkao@gmail.com