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ANTHROPOLOGY-MATTERS  August 2018

ANTHROPOLOGY-MATTERS August 2018

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Subject:

CfP ICAS11 The Ethnography of Tantra

From:

carola erika lorea <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

carola erika lorea <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 10 Aug 2018 14:18:38 +0800

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text/plain

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Hi everybody!
Please feel free to circulate and share with people who work (or need a
good excuse to start working on) contemporary Tantric traditions.
Cheers!
Carola


Call for Papers
ICAS 11 (International Convention of Asia Scholars)
16-19 July 2019, Leiden



*Please send your name, title, abstract (250 words) and short bio to
[log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]> *

*by September 10, 2018.*



*The Ethnography of Tantra:*

*De-textualising and De-colonising the Study of Tantric Traditions *

*(in and outside of Asia)*


Why is ethnography so rarely engaged with Tantric traditions, and what are
the repercussions on the academic knowledge produced on Tantra?


In Indian popular culture, wealthy politicians hire “Tantrics” to secure
their success through black magic. In Indian horror movies, the “Tantric”
is a recurrent figure. In the Netherlands, a group practicing “Tantric
Dance” regularly organizes workshops and summer courses. In Europe and
North America, excellent philologists and religion scholars have produced
an impressive scholarship on Tantra prevalently based on ancient texts and
manuscripts.


Whereas in the Anglo-American world the term Tantra is often associated
with spirituality, feminine/feminist energy and alternative constructions
of sexuality, for Indian middle classes the connotation of the term Tantric
is spooky, ghoulish or even scandalous.


The exorbitant literature on Tantric textual traditions is in striking
opposition to the scarcity of ethnographic accounts of Tantric traditions.
Apart from a few exceptions, rarely scholars have overcome the challenges
imposed by restricted and secretive practices to study contemporary
manifestations of Tantra, both in and outside of its “original”, South
Asian context.


While we often find interpretations of Tantra from the lenses of
orientalism, cultural moralism, commodification and cultural appropriation,
it is difficult to gain, through the existing scholarship, a local
perspective on what people who define themselves as Tantric actually do and
think about the Tantric discourse. Addressing the lack of ethnographic
perspectives on Tantra, this panel aims to discuss what Tantric traditions
are in practice, facing the difficulty of defining a singular Tantric
category to include a variety of scattered, diverse and independent range
of non-institutional communities and techniques in a transnational spectrum.



In the vast assortment of manuals, monographs, and encyclopedia pages on
Tantra produced in the last decades, contemporary lineages, living
interpreters, and practitioners’ perspectives are seldom – or not at all –
included. This panel seeks to give voice to living Tantric traditions, but
also to recuperate and reflect upon existing ethnographic material, in
order to discuss the positionality of the researchers, the ethical and
epistemological challenges of studying esoteric traditions, and the
possibility to decolonize Tantric Studies with the instruments offered by
ethnographic field-work – in its traditional as well as digital forms.


This panel wishes to bring together scholars who are interested in
de-textualising the study of Tantra and give a prominent place to the
dialogue between researchers and practitioners, in the utmost respect for
the local protocols on sharing and accessing esoteric knowledge. This panel
also wishes to offer a venue to discuss the creation of a long-lasting
network for the ethnography of Tantrism, the establishment of a research
group and the possible solutions to share our research questions, results
and conversations with a broader public.



P.S.
Please note that ICAS 11 has limited financial support available for PhD
students and early career scholars. Apply individually submitting the Grant
Application form by October 10 (forms.iias.asia).



-- 
Dr Carola Erika Lorea
ARI Research Fellow
National University of Singapore
[log in to unmask]
https://uniroma.academia.edu/CAROLAERIKALOREA
Author of* Folklore, Religion and the Songs of a Bengali Madman*
http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/books/9789004324718

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