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Bräunlein, Peter J.

Bräunlein, Peter J.

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Peter J. Bräunlein

Abstract

In his famous study ,,Islam Observed," Clifford Geertz poses general critical questions for the study of religion. Taking Geertz's critique and the question ,,what is Islam?" as starting points, this paper explores problems caused by misleading dichotomies such as ,,great" and ,,little" traditions, ,,oral/literal," ,,folk/orthodoxy," etc. Instead of perpetuating the idea of a ,,true Islam," concepts such as ,,discursive tradition," ,,frame of reference," and ,,translocalisation" are employed in order to dissolve the particularuniversal antagonism following several recent (trans-)local studies of Islam.

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Peter J. Bräunlein

Philippine Catholicism is usually seen as a variant of a non-European Christianity, which was formerly introduced by Spanish missionaries and colonizers into the Philippine Archipelago. Philippine passion rituals, especially self-flagellation and rites of crucifixion, are commonly interpreted as bizarre phenomena of a pre-modern folk-religiosity or archaic survivals of ‘our’ past, or as a post-colonial mimicry of European religious history. The perspective on Philippine Christianity is always governed by European discourses, whether religious, scientific, or common sense. This paper is an attempt to question dichotomies such as ‘European’ and ‘non-European,’ ‘modern’ and ‘pre-modern,’ ‘authentic’ and ‘inauthentic,’ etc. In the study of religion such dichotomies, I argue, create problems of conceptualizing diversity within one religious tradition and behind such distinctions lurks the implicit self-perception of the West of being exemplary ‘modern.’ I use Philippine passion rituals as a hermeneutic challenge. Crucifixions are analyzed as media events and from the actor’s perspective, by historicizing the missionary encounter, and by scrutinizing concepts such as ‘syncretism’ and ‘identity.’ ‘Translation’ and the ‘histoire croisée’ approach are proposed as helpful analytical tools for the study of Christianity.

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Thinking Religion Through Things

Reflections on the Material Turn in the Scientific Study of Religion\s

Peter J. Bräunlein

In recent years, the “material turn” has gained prominence in the humanities and social sciences, and it has also stimulated a shift toward a rediscovery of materiality in the scientific study of religion\s. The material turn aims to dissolve conventional dichotomies and, by emphasizing the concept of assemblage, insists that humans and things are fundamentally co-constitutive. This “New Materialism” addresses ontological alterity, and it radically decenters static anthropocentric arrangements and the position of the human subject as such. The insider–outsider distinction, however, as well as the emic–etic categorization, are based on fundamental dichotomies between the researcher and the researched, and between descriptive and analytical understandings of human beings. This article discusses the possibility and significance of a non-anthropocentric approach to religion, and examines to what extent it is analytically helpful to apply the insider–outsider and emic–etic distinctions while pursuing the goal of dissolving hierarchical and binary thinking. It furthermore argues that these issues can be properly answered only with reference to their methodological implications.

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Passion/Pasyon

Rituale des Schmerzes im europäischen und philippinischen Christentum

Peter J. Bräunlein

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Ghost Movies in Southeast Asia and Beyond

Narratives, Cultural Contexts, Audiences

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Edited by Peter J. Bräunlein and Andrea Lauser

Ghost Movies in Southeast Asia and Beyond explores ghost movies, one of the most popular film genres in East and Southeast Asia, by focusing on movie narratives, the cultural contexts of their origins and audience reception.

In the middle of the Asian crisis of the late 1990s, ghost movies became major box office hits. The emergence of the phenomenally popular “J-Horror” genre inspired similar ghost movie productions in Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Singapore. Ghost movies are embedded and reflected in national as well as transnational cultures and politics, in narrative traditions, in the social worlds of the audience, and in the perceptual experience of each individual. They reflect upon the identity crises and traumas of the living as well as of the dead, and they unfold affection and attraction in the border zone between amusement and thrill, secular and religious worldviews. This makes the genre interesting not only for sociologists, anthropologists, media and film scholars, but also for scholars of religion.