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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Portraits of magical practitioners: An approach to the study of magic focusing on persons


Location: Poznań, Poland
Date: 30 Aug 11:00 - 15:30


Room 3.20

This panel introduces a new approach to magic, focusing on the person who practices magic and describing the magical world as grasped by the specialist and other people. Since the 1980s, the subject of “magic and modernity” has been discussed mainly in Africa, to investigate modern situations in which magical practices continue to be activated contradictorily. However, the discussion lacks a native point of view about how practitioners consider magic, and what they think and feel about it. As magic can bridge the cognitive gap between rationality and irrationality, or knowledge and practice, it must be analyzed not only through such dichotomies, but also by paying attention to other possibilities such as imagination, creativity, intuition, etc. To overcome the familiar dichotomies, we concentrate on the person who conducts magical practices. When we compare magic with religion or science, each has its specialist (e.g., witch doctor, priest, scientist). However, the replaceability of the specialist differs highly in each case. While a scientific experiment can be replicated by another scientist, a magical ritual cannot be conducted by another witch doctor. Even though magic shows low replaceability of the practitioner, magical knowledge can be reproduced and maintained. Although the becoming process of specialists has been discussed, as with the famous episode of Quesalid of the Kwakwaka'wakw, their character or personality has rarely been studied. The presentations in this panel will focus on specialists’ words, body, character, intentions, and feelings to describe the magical world as grasped by them.


  • P 63.1
    • Prof. Tsumura, Fumihiko (Meijo University)
    • Dr. Runra, Prasirt (Thammasat University)
    • Prof. Shirakawa, Chihiro (Osaka University)
  • P 63.2
    • Prof. Tsumura, Fumihiko (Meijo University)
    • Dr. Runra, Prasirt (Thammasat University)
    • Prof. Shirakawa, Chihiro (Osaka University)

Timetable | Contribution List

Displaying 9 contributions out of 9
This paper aims to examine the possibility of describing magical abilities from the perspective of individuality and the personality of the magical specialists/practitioners. The relationship between the source and history (whether congenital or acquired) of magical abilities will receive special consideration. In studies of shamanism and new religious movements, the personal qualities of shamans ... More
Presented by Dr. Makito KAWADA on 30/8/2019 at 9:05
Almost without exception, somewhere in the healing landscape in the agricultural plain of Chhattisgarh, central India, lays the baigā-guniyā (a Chhattisgarhi phrase to encompass all village healers). When the occasion arises, the baigā handles the mechanics of the rituals of deities on behalf of the village and their shrines are regarded as his special province. His role complements the role of ... More
Presented by Dr. Helen MACDONALD on 30/8/2019 at 12:05
This paper compares two different healers in northern Thailand to explore how magical efficacy depends on the specific practitioner as a person. It describes the process of becoming healers, the characteristics of their healing practices, and the villagers’ actions after the healers were no longer able to practice. One of the healers had been a Buddhist monk, which was thought to strongly influe ... More
Presented by Dr. Junko IIDA on 30/8/2019 at 9:45
In the study of materials, a great distinction can be made between the knowledge that engineers and other scientists produce of them, and that knowledge that arises from sensory perception, which would come from the experience of a lifetime working with the materials (Ingold 2007, 2011). In this sense, to understand the meaning of materials for those who work with them, as in the case of artisans, ... More
Presented by Dr. Viviana LEBEDINSKY
Although previous discussions of ""magic and modernity"" investigated modern situations in which magic has been contradictorily reestablished, they overlooked an important factor that is foundational to magic: the people involved. Since magic can bridge the cognitive gap between tradition and modernity, rationality and irrationality, and knowledge and practice, that which connects these dichotomie ... More
Presented by Dr. Fumihiko TSUMURA on 30/8/2019 at 12:25
The purpose of this research is to study the symbol of celestial bodies and the treatment of diseases. According to the results, the Thai traditional medicine presented knowledge about diseases in two aspects: 1) the symptoms of disease are portrayed by means of symbolization in relation to the celestial bodies of each zodiac sign and the seasonal elements of astrology. 2) The methods of treatment ... More
Presented by Dr. Prasirt RUNRA on 30/8/2019 at 10:05
The purpose of this research is to study the relationship between the beliefs of children in the V-Star training program and the song composed by Dhammakaya Temple. According to the results, the researcher perceived that the children’s song composed by Dhammakaya Temple is correlated to the concept of Brahman-Hinduism, which manifests a sacred prayer for god’s blessing. Moreover, the children ... More
Presented by Dr. Suntaree CHOTIDILOK on 30/8/2019 at 11:45
The aim of this paper is to explore the relationship between magical practitioners and their magic, based on a case study of traditional medical practitioners or traditional healers of Tongoa island in Vanuatu and their knowledge of medical/healing practices. Tongoan traditional medicine, which is called kastom meresin in the local language, is based mainly on techniques including the use of plant ... More
Presented by Dr. Chihiro SHIRAKAWA on 30/8/2019 at 9:25
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