Religious Authority in East Asia: Materiality, Media, and Aesthetics

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Jane Eluned Caple, Erica Baffelli

This special issue brings together interdisciplinary and inter-regional contributions that examine a wide range of forms and modes of religious authority in East Asia, with a particular focus on their materiality and aesthetic and sensory dimensions. In this introductory paperarticle, we highlight and discuss major themes emerging from the papers articles and discussions among contributors, and point to some future research directions. Examining the relational nature of authority (re)production across a broad range of cases, we argue that attention to emotional bonds and aesthetic standards might move us beyond classical definitions of authority types. Going on to discuss the negotiation of authority through the lens of aesthetic sensibility, we argue that material and sensorial dimensions not only play an important role in defining and legitimatizing authority, but also in its contingency and instability over time.
Finally, the paper article focuses on the possibilities and limits of mediated authority, an issue we argue is relevant to both contemporary and historical practices, even if recent technological developments present specific opportunities and challenges.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAsian Ethnology
Volume78
ISSN1882-6865
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jun 2019

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - Asian religion, authority, mediation, materiality, aesthetics, Senses, Emotion

ID: 214465490