“Spectral Economies“. Economy, cosmology and ritual in East and Southeast Asia

Panel organised by: Oliver Tappe (Universität Köln)

Panel description

Ghosts, ancestors and other non-human entities actively participate in various forms of the economy in East and Southeast Asia. While in rural areas protection and fertility continue to be the centre of the ritual exchanges with these entities, increasing urbanization, industrialization and new relations of production have lead to significant changes of the religious sphere. Economic transformations therefore not only lead to changes in markets and life-styles, but, moreover, have an impact on rituals and cosmologies. Instead of conceptualizing the economy and religion as parallel worlds, this panel wants to explore the convergences of market, economy and religious cults. One focus of analysis of the panel is the participation of ghosts, ancestors and deities in capitalist, neoliberal and changing subsistence economies. We also want to discuss if and to what extend certain transformations of the economic sphere (property, wage labor, monetarization etc.) are mirrored in religious cults and rituals.

The following questions could be discussed: How do economic changes impact on religious everyday practices that deal with ghosts and deities? Which roles do these entities play in periods of economic crisis or boom times under the volatile conditions of global capitalism? Do traditional, revitalized or new religious movements enable people to cope with insecurity and risk in a competitive, globalized economy? Are concepts of distributive justice and their violations expressed in the ritual communication with non-human entities? Are ghostly hauntings, possession- and prosperity cults expressions of a new economic moralities and their problematization?

While the panel primarily wants to explore the relation of religion and the economy by employing perspectives derived from ethnography and contemporary history, other approaches (history, textual studies, for example) that have a thematic link are certainly welcome.

Paper proposal

  • By submitting the above panel proposal I authorise the German Association for Asian Studies (DGA) and the conference organisers to store, process and publish my personal data collected in the above paper proposal form for the purpose of preparing, organising and documenting the German Association for Asian Studies’ (DGA) biannual Conference on Contemporary Asia 2019 (“the conference”) and as far as necessary for the fulfilment of the statuary purpose of the association (§ 2 DGA statutes). At the same time I agree that my participation in the conference may be recorded audio-visually and that this material may be published within the context of reporting on the conference in printed materials as well as online. The DGA and the conference organisers will store and process all personal data in accordance with the EU General Data Protection Regulation.