Spirits in and of Southeast Asia's modernity
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/11747
First published (peer reviewed)
DORISEA working paper; 1
In this paper I focus on the appearances of spirits and ghosts in possession cults, popular rituals and the mass media in contemporary East- and Southeast Asia. The belief in spirits and ghosts, not to mention their magical manipulation, is usually regarded as outspokenly pre-modern. However, the accepted dichotomies such as enchanted tradition – disenchanted modernity, rationality – superstition, authentic religion – magical practices are challenged by the observation that processes of modernization in Southeast Asia are not only accompanied by diverse religious revivals but also by spirit cults and the interventions of gods, ghosts and ancestors. It seems that in progressing economies and highly “modern” countries, such as Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan or Japan, not only private monetary investments are increasing, but also spiritual investments. Intimate contact to the ancestors is as indispensable as the placation of revengeful ghosts. Against this background, studying spirits and ghosts in Asia’s modernities is perfectly suited for the critical examination of the concept of modernity and its affiliated biased presuppositions themselves.