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Senior Research Seminar: Dr Thomas Csordas

When Feb 10, 2017
from 04:15 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Edmund Leach Room, Division of Social Anthropology
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Dr Thomas Csordas (UC San Diego)

Beings Without Bodies: Contemporary Catholic Exorcism and the Discourse of Evil

The idea that people can be controlled or possessed by beings without bodies – whether they are disembodied spirits, never-embodied deities, or divinity incarnate, and whether they are malevolent, benevolent, or a combination of both – is widespread among the world’s cultures and religions.  I will focus on one form of possession, that encountered by exorcists in the Roman Catholic Church.  Catholic exorcism prayer has been resurgent since the beginning of the 21st century, and is probably more prominent now than at any time since the 1600s, two periods separated by the Enlightenment and its aftermath.  Possession is supernatural violation of bodily boundaries in which the afflicted person does not so much incorporate a demon as s/he is devoured by it, raising culturally specific questions of materiality, morality, ontology, and pathology.

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