Conférence de Laurel Kendall : « Comparing Gods and Things – Looking at and Beyond Korea »

Vendredi 24 juin 2022, 10h-12h

Conférence de Laurel Kendall (anthropologue et conservatrice au sein du American Museum of Natural History)

 

« Comparing Gods and Things – Looking at and Beyond Korea »

 

Campus Condorcet (Aubervilliers), amphithéâtre de l’espace Françoise Héritier du GED

 

Rencontre organisée par Florence Galmiche (Centre Chine Corée Japon) et Bénédicte Brac de la Perrière (Centre Asie du Sud-Est), suivie d’une discussion en présence de Bénédicte Brac de la Perrière, Florence Galmiche, Michel Picard (CNRS, CASE) et Paul Sorrentino (EHESS, CASE).

 

Résumé de l’intervention :

Anthropology is an innately comparative discipline and yet, it has been noted, contemporary anthropologists are generally squeamish about explicitly comparative work. There are good reasons for this—from the naïve generalizations of the discipline’s Victorian forefathers to the overly mechanistic generalizations of structuralism. What is proposed here is more modest, something in the manner of a dialogue that brings things learned in Korean shaman shrines into conversation with other popular religious traditions where gods/spirits/energies become visible through their material realization in the corporeal bodies of spirit mediums and shamans and via ensouled statues, paintings, and masks. In Hindu and Buddhist worlds (including Korea), such objects are produced in commercial workshops where knowing craftsmanship entangles (what we commonly call) technique with what we might (more cautiously) call magic to produce an efficacious or agentive image. In Korean shaman practice and among spirit mediums in Vietnam, Myanmar, and Bali, these statues, masks, and paintings are intended to facilitate the presence of otherwise unseen entities in ritual settings. This presentation describes a comparative project that became Kendall’s recently published book, Mediums and Magical Things. As a work of comparison, the discussion reveals how questions derived from ethnographic encounters in one place may yield surprising answers in another and sometimes enrich an understanding of the point from which one began.

 


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