ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

23 – Engaging the world through contemporary South Asian tantric and shamanic traditions

South Asian tantra cannot be reduced to a corpus of texts, nor to a reservoir of classical philosophical debates over the ultimate nature of the world. Rather, it is well integrated in the sensible reality, the one that is susceptible to be perceived by the senses.

Convenors

Monika Hirmer - Department of Religions and Philosophies, SOAS, University of London, United Kingdom
Fabio Armand - Sciences and Humanities Confluences Research Center (EA1598), Lyon Catholic University (UCLy), France.

Long Abstract

South Asian tantra cannot be reduced to a corpus of texts, nor to a reservoir of classical philosophical debates over the ultimate nature of the world. Rather, it is well integrated in the sensible reality, the one that is susceptible to be perceived by the senses. In order to construct a broader picture of South Asian tantra, we emphasize its vernacular aspects and the fluidity between tantric, shamanic and folk traditions. Through the lived experiences of tantric practitioners and shamans, it is possible to observe common indigenous cultural backgrounds that contribute to explaining the great variety of beliefs and rituals in both tantra and shamanism(s).

Focusing on present-day South Asia, we propose to study tantric and shamanic practices and cosmologies embedded within human and cultural landscapes in view of their potential to address the following themes:

  • the current ecological crisis and the relations between human and non-human ontologies;
  • the perseverance of patriarchal dominance and other exploitative relationships;
  • the survival of individual/collective memories and cultural identities in the aftermath of colonialism.

The main objective will be to build a more sophisticated and transdisciplinary vision of tantric and shamanic practices in South Asia, which breaks down the boundaries that currently define these systems of interpretation of the world. We call for scholars from a variety of disciplines (anthropology, religious, gender and area studies, cognitive sciences, etc.) and espousing various methodological approaches, including ethnography, textual and historical analysis.