Sacredness and Materiality in East and Southeast Asia

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Sacredness and Materiality in East and Southeast Asia
Stream: Religion
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Kazuo Fukuura, Toin University of Yokohama, Japan (organizer, presenter, chair)
Hidekazu Sensui, Kanagawa University, Japan (presenter, discussant)
Ryohei Takamura, Akita University, Japan (presenter)
Atsuko Fukuura, Shiga University, Japan (presenter)


In contemporary East and Southeast Asia, the economic, social and political transformations and developments have affected on transformation and revitalisation of religion. Consequently, religious practices in these regions have been moulded and registered uniquely and significantly as enduring communal ties and memories, as well as spiritual authority in everyday lives of the people. In these circumstances, religious fetishes are frequently recalled, resurrected, and mobilised as symbolic nexuses in specific social contexts. This panel will explore their diverse and situated agencies in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand to elucidate how materialities in religious beliefs have been formed, recognised and arranged in these historical and contemporary crossroads of Asia. What kind of relationship is there between seemingly ordinary fetishes on the altars of Okinawan shamans and their thought about the transcendental interaction with their possessing deities? How have burden of labour required for managing graves and rise in land prices influenced reconfiguration of cemeteries and religious practices in Jeju Islanders in South Korea? Why have Singaporean Chinese become more and more enthusiastic about negotiating with government agencies to maintain and develop their Daoism temples and religious practices? In terms of materiality, how has the city pillar worship been created, reconfigured, and modified throughout the history of Chiang Mai, northern Thailand? By means of these case studies, this panel will clarify comprehensively the depth and diversity of relationships between sacredness and materiality in these two regions.