Ghost Movies in Southeast Asia and Beyond

Narratives, Cultural Contexts, Audiences

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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.
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Biographical Note

Peter J. Bräunlein currently holds a visiting professorship at the Institute for the Study of Religion at the University of Leipzig. From 2011-2015 he conducted a collaborative research project on "spirits and modernity" in the Dynamics of Religion in Southeast Asia network (DORISEA), at the University of Göttingen. His research interests include Christianity in anthropological and historical perspectives; religious pluralism in Southeast Asia; film and media studies; ghosts, spirits and the uncertainties of modernity.

Andrea Lauser is professor of Anthropology in the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Georg-August-University, Göttingen. From 2011-2015 she was the spokesperson of the research network on the Dynamics of Religion in Southeast Asia (DORISEA) and engaged in the research project “spirits and modernity”. She co-edited among others the volume Religion, Place and Modernity in Southeast and East Asia. Spatial Articulations in Southeast Asia and East Asia (Brill, 2016).

Table of contents

Peter J. Bräunlein: ‘Cinema-Spiritualism’ in Southeast Asia and Beyond: Encounters with Ghosts in the 21st Century

Section 1: Narratives
Vivian Lee: Ghost Movies in Southeast Asia: Universal Hybrids—The Trans/local Production of Pan-Asian Horror
Elisabeth Scherer: Well-Travelled Female Avengers: The Transcultural Potential of Japanese Ghosts
Martin Platt: Telling Tales: Variety, Community, and Horror in Thailand
Maren Wilger: ‘Sundelbolong’ as a Mode of Femininity: Analysis of Popular Ghost Movies in Indonesia

Section 2: Cultural Contexts
Katarzyna Ancuta: That’s the Spirit! Horror Films as an Extension of Thai Supernaturalism
Benjamin Baumann: The Khmer Witch Project: Demonizing the Khmer by Khmerizing a Demon
Henri Myrttinen: Stepping Out from the Silver Screen and into the Shadows: The Fearsome, Ephemeral Ninjas of Timor-Leste

Section 3: Audience
Mary Ainslie: The Supernatural and Post-War Thai Film: Traditional Monsters and Social Mobility
Natalie Boehler: Globalized Haunting: The Transnational Spectral in Apichatpong’s Syndromes and a Century and its Reception
Patrick Keilbart: Pencak Silat, Ghosts, and (Inner) Power: Reception of Martial Arts Movies and Television Series amongst Young Pencak Silat Practitioners in Indonesia
Ghost Movies, the Makers, and their Audiences: Andrea Lauser in Conversation with the Filmmakers Katarzyna Ancuta, Solarsin Ngoenwichit from Thailand and Mattie Do from Laos

About the Authors

Readership

The book is targeted at all disciplines active in the field of Southeast Asian Studies and Asian Studies, and in particular anthropology, sociology, religious studies, media studies, cultural studies, film studies.

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