Session at the 16th EASA Biennial Conference: New anthropological horizons in and beyond Europe

This panel investigates the "selective enchantment" of religious spaces in localities and diaspora in and beyond Asia, where ambiguity and contrasts between heterogeneous practices and discourses obey to a rhizomatic logic rather than dichotomies such as East/West, sacred/profane.

Today, temples and other religious sites in Asia and Asian diaspora provide space for non-religious practices that run in parallel or blend with worship and other religious activities: in Thailand, temples serve as local museum exhibitions for the community's cultural assets and history; in Japan, shrines are visited by mangas' fans for recreating their favorite locations, whereas folk deities in Taiwan sustain political campaigns or watch movies with neighbors. Local shrines and temples also express urban empowerment, as well as negotiations with, alternatives to, critiques of contemporary and/or global ways of life: "subaltern", "rebel" or diasporic groups claim their own space and voice, whilst grassroots movements reframe temples as tools for community inclusion and self-awareness. These validations of subalternity, marginality and alterity are sustained by the mimetic and metamorphic features of sacred force, what Elison (2018) called "selective enchantment": sacredness attracts public attention by transforming ordinary or neglected spaces, such as bus stops in slums. Rather than enforcing certain trite dichotomies (sacred/secular, East/West), these phenomena can be viewed as Deleuzian rhizomes. With "rhizome", we want to emphasize the concept of agencement: a relationship of multiplicities in constant metamorphosis and adaptation to time and power dynamics, thereby not reducible either to "canonical"/"official" spaces, narratives, and practices or to the sum of distinct "agents". By adopting intersectional thinking, we would like to dialogue with papers that address these metamorphoses and adaptations, thereby suggesting a new theoretical and ethnographic framework to contemporary anthropology.


  • Valentina Gamberi (Academia Sinica)
  • Pijika Pumketkao (UMR AUSser/IPRAUS/ENSA PB, UMR Prodig)


  • Professor Hsun Chang