The Study of Religious Experience - Approaches and Methodologies - Bettina E. Schmidt

The Study of Religious Experience - Approaches and Methodologies - Bettina E. Schmidt

5. Provincializing Religious Experience; Methodological Challenges to the Study of Religious Experiences in Brazil

The Study of Religious Experience - Approaches and Methodologies - Bettina E. Schmidt

Bettina E. Schmidt [+-]
University of Wales Trinity Saint David
Bettina E. Schmidt, PhHabil, PhD, MA in cultural anthropology (Marburg University, Germany), Professor of study of religions at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Director of the Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre in Lampeter. Previously she worked at Marburg University, Oxford University and Bangor University. She was also visiting professor at the City University of New York and visiting scholar at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo. She has published extensively on Caribbean and Latin American religions, identity, cultural theories and migration. Her academic interests include the anthropology of religion, diaspora identity, religious experience, urban studies, medical anthropology and gender issues. Her main fieldworks were conducted in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, New York City, and, more recently, in São Paulo, Brazil, about spirit possession and trance. She is the author of Caribbean Diaspora in the USA: Diversity of Caribbean Religions in New York City (2008, Ashgate), Einführung in die Religionsethnologie (2008, Reimer Verlag Berlin), and co-editor of Spirit Possession and Trance: New Interdisciplinary Perspectives (2010, Continuum), to name just a few recent publications.

Description

Religious experience is a vague category that is used to describe and categorise experiences of very different types. Quite often people experiencing it do not categorize their experience as religious but prefer terms such as spiritual or even normal. They fear that labelling it as ‘religious’ experience would discriminate their experience as a kind of ‘abnormal’ activity. This was also the case in my research about spirit possession and trance in Brazil. Often spirit possession is even regarded by the community as technique, means of communication between the world of spirits and the world of humans with the person embodying the spirit described as “medium” that enables the communication. Referring to my fieldwork experience in Brazil I will discuss in my paper the challenges of the study of religious experience.

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Citation

Schmidt, Bettina. 5. Provincializing Religious Experience; Methodological Challenges to the Study of Religious Experiences in Brazil. The Study of Religious Experience - Approaches and Methodologies. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 88-104 Aug 2016. ISBN 971781792575. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=26585. Date accessed: 21 Sep 2017 doi: 10.1558/equinox.26585. Aug 2016

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