Thursday, November 29, 2012


The introduction offers a substantial account of recent theory that corrects the ‘dichotomised heritage’ of thinking about body and soul in anthropology...The volume as a whole offers a worthwhile contribution to the growing literature on corporealised religion in the contemporary world. It will be of interest to anthropologists writing on Christianity and the body and on religion and migration, as well as to readers with an interest in the study of religion outside anthropology.  ·  
Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale

“[This volume] assembles some fascinating new examples of embodiment of culture, indicating the potential for this paradigm in religion and beyond [that has been lost for centuries]by denigrating and ignoring the body as a serious and intelligent locus of human experience and knowledge.  ·  
Anthropology Review Database

More information about the editors:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Notes on Contributors

Giovanna Bacchiddu received her doctorate in social anthropology at the University of St Andrews. She is the author of a number of articles on
religion, sociality and kinship in Apiao, Chiloé, Chile. She is currently
working on a project on transnational adoption, investigating perceptions
of relatedness and identity amongst Chilean children adopted by Italian

Katia Ballacchino obtained her PhD in ethnology and ethno-anthropology from the University ‘Sapienza’ in Rome. She is currently Adjunct Professor at the University of Molise. Her main research topics are: second-generation immigrants in Italy; social and cultural mediation; visual ethnography; and popular traditions and the inventory of the intangible cultural heritage in the South of Italy. She is author of several publications about these topics.

Ruy Llera Blanes, anthropologist, is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon and Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science (Anthropology Department). He specializes in the anthropology of religion, having previously worked with Pentecostal movements in Southern Europe. He is currently working with African prophetic movements, discussing issues of knowledge, transmission, memory, rationalism, leadership and charisma.

Aleksandra Cimpric, anthropologist, is a PhD student at the University
of Provence (Aix-Marseille I) and a member of CEMAf (Centre d’Etudes
des Mondes Africains). She is doing a research work in Central African
Republic on the transformation of symbolic representations related to
water, namely, talimbi witchcraft. Her work is largely concerned with the
imagery of occult forces in everyday life of Central African population, as
well as violence as a result of witchcraft accusations. Her current interests
include also Christianity and new religious movements, violence, juridical
anthropology and identities in contemporary Central African Republic.

Keith Egan is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Anthropology, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, where he received his PhD in anthropology in 2007. He is currently researching the construction of gender, faith and belonging among Irish pilgrims at Catholic shrines in Europe.

Anna Fedele explores in her work the intersections of gender and religion, the importance of corporeality in religious contexts, and ritual creativity. She has done extensive fieldwork on alternative pilgrimages to French shrines and is the author of Looking for Mary Magdalene (forthcoming, Oxford University Press). She is a postdoctoral researcher at the Centro em Rede de Investigação em Antropologia (CRIA) of the Lisbon University Institute and a research fellow at the Groupe de Sociologie Politique et Morale of the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales of Paris.

Kim E. Knibbe is an anthropologist and sociologist of religion and works as assistant professor at the University of Groningen. The research on which her contribution is based was carried out at the VU University in Amsterdam within an international research project titled ‘transnational Nigerian-initiated churches, networks and believers in three northern countries in Europe’. This project was initiated by the European Research Network on Global Pentecostalism (see She has done research on religion and spirituality in the Netherlands, Nigeria and the Philippines.

Ann Maria Ostenfeld-Rosenthal, Phd, is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Anthropology and Ethnography, Aarhus University, Denmark. Her research includes the following keywords: spiritual healing, functional disorders, placebo, health and spirituality, doctor-patient relationship, Denmark, ritual, social change, popular religion, pilgrimages, gender, identity, regionalism and Spain.

João Rickli completed his PhD research in 2010 at the Vrije Universiteit
in Amsterdam, with a scholarship from the Brazilian Ministry of Education. He investigated Dutch Protestant missionary and diaconal initiatives in Brazil. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the VU University in Amsterdam.

Eugenia Roussou, anthropologist, is a postdoctoral researcher at CRIA/
FCSH, New University of Lisbon. She has conducted extensive fieldwork in Greece on the subjects of religion, ritual performativity and material manifestations of belief. She is currently working on the influence of alternative spiritualities in contemporary Portuguese religiosity.

Andrew Spiegel is associate professor in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cape Town where he has taught for over thirty years, ten of them as head of department. He has published on a wide variety of southern African topics, most recently on racism, on the concept of tradition and its uses in the southern African context, on the challenges of teaching social anthropology in a South African context and, in collaboration with a civil engineer and an environmentalist, on the social implications of drainage problems in informal settlements.

Silke Sponheuer is a practising eurythmist who trained and worked for seventeen years at the Hamburg Eurythmy School. She has been director of the Kairos Eurythmy Training programme in Cape Town for fifteen years and has choreographed and directed various stage eurythmy performances. In 2009 she was awarded a master’s degree in dance (choreography – with distinction) by the University of Cape Town.

Ehler Voss has studied anthropology, philosophy and German language and literature. He received his PhD in Anthropology from the University of Leipzig, Germany, and is currently researching 19th century European spiritism at the University of Siegen, Germany.



List of Illustrations vii

Acknowledgements ix

Introduction x

Anna Fedele and Ruy Llera Blanes

Part I. Bodies and Souls in Catholic Settings

Chapter 1. ‘I want to feel the Camino in my legs’. Trajectories

of Walking on the Camino de Santiago 3

Keith Egan

Chapter 2. Holding the Saint in One’s Arms. Miracles and

Exchange in Apiao, Southern Chile 23

Giovanna Bacchiddu

Chapter 3. Embodying Devotion, Embodying Passion.

The Italian Tradition of The Festa dei Gigli in Nola 43

Katia Ballacchino

Part II. Corporeality, Belief and Human Mobility

Chapter 4. The Body and the World. Missionary Performances

and the Experience of the World in the Protestant

Church in the Netherlands 69

João Rickli

Chapter 5. ‘How To Deal with the Dutch’. The Local and

the Global in the Habitus of the Saved Soul 91

Kim Knibbe

Chapter 6. Is Witchcraft Embodied? Representations of

the Body in Talimbi Witchcraft 109

Aleksandra Cimpric

Part III. New Spiritualities Challenging the Body/Soul Divide

Chapter 7. When Soma Encounters the Spiritual. Bodily Praxes

of Performed Religiosity in Contemporary Greece 133

Eugenia Roussou

Chapter 8. Reenchanted Bodies. The Signifi cance of the

Spiritual Dimension in Danish Healing Rituals 151

Ann Ostenfeld-Rosenthal

Chapter 9. The Struggle for Sovereignty. The Interpretation

of Bodily Experiences in Anthropology and

among Mediumistic Healers in Germany 168

Ehler Voss

Chapter 10. Transforming Musical Soul into Bodily Practice.

Tone Eurythmy, Anthroposophy and

Underlying Structures 179

Andrew Spiegel and Silke Sponheuer

Notes on Contributors 203

Subject Index

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Social scientists and philosophers confronted with religious phenomena have always been challenged to find a proper way to describe the spiritual experiences of the social group they were studying. The influence of the Cartesian dualism of body and mind (or soul) led to a distinction between non-material, spiritual experiences (i.e., related to the soul) and physical, mechanical experiences (i.e., related to the body). However, recent developments in medical science on the one hand and challenges to universalist conceptions of belief and spirituality on the other have resulted in “body” and “soul” losing the reassuring solid contours they had in the past. Yet, in “Western culture,” the body–soul duality is alive, not least in academic and media discourses. This volume pursues the ongoing debates and discusses the importance of the body and how it is perceived in contemporary religious faith: what happens when “body” and “soul” are un-separated entities? Is it possible, even for anthropologists andethnographers, to escape from “natural dualism”? The contributors here present research in novel empirical contexts, the benefits and limits of the old dichotomy are discussed, and new theoretical strategies proposed.

Anna Fedele explores in her work the intersections of gender and religion, the importance of corporeality in religious contexts, and ritual creativity. She has done extensive fieldwork on alternative pilgrimages to French shrines and is the author of Looking for Mary Magdalene (forthcoming, Oxford University Press). She is a postdoctoral researcher at the Centro em Rede de Investigação em Antropologia (CRIA) of the Lisbon University Institute and a research fellow at the Groupe de Sociologie Politique et Morale of the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales of Paris.
Ruy Llera Blanes is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon and Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences in the Department of Anthropology. He has specialized in the anthropology of religion, having worked on Pentecostal movements in southern Europe. Currently, he is working with African prophetic movements, discussing issues of leadership, charisma, memory, transmission, knowledge and rationalism.