SFB 1187 ›Medien der Kooperation‹ an der Universität Siegen
Workshop – “Skill and Scale in Transnational Mediumship”
Thursday, 13 December 2018 Organized by B04 in Collaboration with a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne, Global South Studies Center Cologne, and the Association for Anthropology and Medicine (AGEM)

Over the last decades, scholars have discussed the “Return of the Religious” as to deeply question the narratives of modernity and its disenchantment worldwide (de Vries and Weber 2001). Scholars engaged in an intense debate about the quality and substance of religion, and its mediation in new technical media, and discussed its various forms of transnationalization and diversification in the context of globalization processes (cf. Csordas, 2009; Behrend and Zillinger 2015).

“Skill and Scale in Transnational Mediumship II” sets out to discuss new communities of practice and enskilment that evolve around techniques of mediumship in an interconnected world. The increased mobility of people and organizations, things, signs and symbols that take part in or reformulate trance practices and spiritual experiences has significantly widened the scope and outreach of adepts of trance, spirit possession and spiritual body arts. The various body techniques, symbols and artifacts play a major role in the re-organization of spirituality on site and contribute to the emergence of transnational spirited publics across time and space. This workshop, and the volume we intend to produce, therefore explores how the “local” and the “global” of religious and spiritual practice is co-produced. We invite all participants to zoom in on how these practices are taught and learned, transformed and re-invented in different settings and to reflect upon „apprenticeship“ as a process of enskilment (Ingold). While enskilment continuous to takes place in context of co-participation, it is increasingly transformed through technologization, standardization and interaction at a distance: co-participation does not necessarily entail co-presence. “Skill” denotes the “know how” of mediumship, the ability to discern, invoke and elaborate mediumistic experiences, while “scale” reminds us of both, (1) the scale, in which mediumistic practices take place and invoke transcendental powers, the Maßstab in German – in which signs, things, and person are drawn together in a ritual setting and, (2) the scale, by which the practitioners reach out to new audiences, clients and cooperation partners – or refuse to do so by delimiting their practices to a certain group of practitioners and their intimate publics. Both aspects are a matter of controversies among academics and practitioners alike and we are looking forward to discuss this along the ethnographic case-studies.


Universität zu Köln
a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne
3. OG | Raum 3. A06
Aachener Str. 217
50931 Köln




Universität Siegen
Ehler Voss
Universität zu Köln
Martin Zillinger

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