Upcoming Events

Webinar: Online Documentary Film Program and Debate

Religious Healing and Sacred Health Curing

The Network of the Anthropology of the Middle East and Central Eurasia of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) in collaboration with the Religion and Society Research Cluster, Western Sydney University are organising a new series of online biweekly documentary film presentations and debates regarding Religious Healing and Sacred Health Curing.

During our current complex situation caused by COVID-19, this program should be considered a unique platform for specialists of the field in which they will be able to watch collectively documentary films which in one way or another discuss the role of religion, religious rituals, sacred sites and material religion in religious healing and sacred health curing. The film presentations will be continued by a debate between the moderator, filmmakers and the specialists of the field.

Week 6: September 19, 2020 10:00 AM London (7pm Sydney time)

Please join our fifth biweekly webinar (19 September 2020), documentary film presentation and debate organized by the Network of the Anthropology of the Middle East and Central Eurasia of EASA in collaboration with the Religion and Society Research Cluster, Western Sydney University.

Introduction to the session by Dr. P. Khosronejad (Western Sydney University), debate by Dr. Natasha Fijn (Australian National University) researcher and director, discussants Prof. Geoffrey Samuel (University of Sydney) and Dr Natalie Kohle (Hong Kong Baptist University).

Film presentation: Two Seasons: Multispecies Medicine in Mongolia

Natasha Fijn, 2018, 62 minutes, Mongolia.

Multispecies medicine in Mongolia

Synopsis

This multispecies-based observational film engages with Mongolian herders’ medicinal knowledge and perceptions in relation to other species. The documentary was filmed within three separate homelands (or nutag) in spring and again in autumn. The film follows different protagonists: Ganbaa travels with the filmmaker to reconnect with his extended family and friends, Nara lives in a herding encampment during the warmer months, while herding couple Bor and Bombog remain herding in the valley they grew up in. The film conveys how medicinal knowledge is actively passed on through forms of mentorship and everyday application within their extended kinship networks. In spring the herders’ focus is on the birth of newborn animals and boosting immunity. In autumn the focus is on collecting medicinal herbs from the mountainsides, while preparing hay for the long winter months.

After the film, a debate with the presence of the filmmaker.

A link will be provided to all participants after the introduction debates to watch the film online or via screen sharing through the moderator’s screen.

Recorded webinar (Week 6) can be watched on: https://vimeo.com/461190514

Week 5: September 5, 2020 10:00 AM London (7pm Sydney time)

Please join our fifth biweekly webinar (5 September 2020), documentary film presentation and debate organized by the Network of the Anthropology of the Middle East and Central Eurasia of EASA in collaboration with the Religion and Society Research Cluster, Western Sydney University.

Introduction to the session by Dr. P. Khosronejad (Western Sydney University), debate by Dr. Arik Moran (University of Haifa) researcher and co-director, and discussant Dr. Elena Mucciarelli (University of Groningen).

Film presentation: CHIDRA

Nadav Harel and Arik Moran, 2018, 40 minutes, Israel.

The Mask

Synopsis

CHIDRA (from Sanskrit, "pierced" or "cut") is an outcome of ongoing collaboration between documentary filmmaker Nadav Harel (Noprocess Films) and ethnohistorian Arik Moran. The documentary follows Ram Nath as he leaves his fields and buffaloes to play the part of human sacrifice in a mysterious religious festival called "Kahika" in the Himalayan Valley of Kullu, North India. During the ritual, Ram Nath transforms from a highland peasant into the master of ceremonies, a powerful redeemer who cuts holes (chidra) in the fabric of society, collecting sins into a cosmic trap that only he can operate. CHIDRA follows Ram Nath through the ritual, revealing how men, gods, and mediums handle the dangerous substance of actions (karma) at the frontier of the Hindu cultural sphere.

After the film, a debate with the presence of the filmmaker.

A link will be provided to all participants after the introduction debates to watch the film online or via screen sharing through the moderator’s screen.

Recorded webinar (Week 5) can be watched on: https://vimeo.com/456117030

Week 4: August 22, 2020 10:00 AM London (7pm Sydney time)

Please join our forth biweekly webinar (22 August 2020), documentary film presentation and debate organized by the Network of the Anthropology of the Middle East and Central Eurasia of EASA in collaboration with the Religion and Society Research Cluster, Western Sydney University.

Introduction to the session by Dr. P. Khosronejad (Western Sydney University), debate by Dr. Mike Poltorak (University of Kent) researcher and filmmaker.

Film presentation: The Healer and the Psychiatrist

Mike Poltorak, 2019, 74 minutes, UK/ Switzerland.

The Healer & the Psychiatrist Image

Synopsis

On the South Pacific Island group of Vava’u, the traditional healer Emeline Lolohea treats people affected by spirits. One day away by ferry, the only Tongan Psychiatrist Dr Mapa Puloka has established a public psychiatry well known across the region. Though they have never met in person, this film creates a dialogue between them on the nature of mental illness and spiritual affliction. Their commitment and transformative communication offers challenges and opportunities to help address the growing global mental health crisis.

After the film, a debate with the presence of the filmmaker.

A link will be provided to all participants after the introduction debates to watch the film online or via screen sharing through the moderator’s screen.

Recorded webinar (Week 4) can be watched on: https://vimeo.com/450925633

Week 3: August 8, 2020 10:00 AM London (7pm Sydney time)

Please join our third biweekly webinar (8 August 2020), documentary film presentation and debate organized by the Network of the Anthropology of the Middle East and Central Eurasia of EASA in collaboration with the Religion and Society Research Cluster, Western Sydney University.

Introduction to the program by Dr. P. Khosronejad (Western Sydney University), debate by researcher and filmmaker Dr. Christian Suhr (Aarhus University), and discussant Dr. Paola Esposito (University of Oxford).

Film presentation: Descending with Angels

Christian Suhr, 2013, 75 minutes, Denmark.

Synopsis 

Islamic exorcism or psychotropic medication? ”Descending with Angels” explores two highly different solutions to the same problem: namely Danish Muslims who are possessed by invisible spirits, called jinn.

A Palestinian refugee living in the city of Aarhus has been committed to psychiatric treatment after a severe case of jinn possession which caused him to destroy the interior of a mosque, crash several cars, and insult a number of people. He sees no point in psychotropic medication since his illness has already been treated with Quranic incantations. A psychiatrist and nurse try to understand his point of view but find that even further medication is needed. In the meantime a local imam battles a stubborn jinn-spirit of Iraqi origin and tries to explain the Muslims of Aarhus that they should stop worrying so much about jinn, magic, and other mundane affairs since nothing can harm anyone except by the permission of God.

The film compares two systems of treatment that despite vast differences both share a view of healing as operating through submission of faith to an external non-human agency — namely God or psychotropic medicine.

After the film, a debate with the presence of the filmmaker.

A link will be provided to all participants after the introduction debates to watch the film online or via screen sharing through the moderator’s screen.

Recorded webinar (Week 3) can be watched on: https://vimeo.com/446327957

Week 2: July 25, 2020 10:00 AM in London (7pm Sydney time)

Please join our second biweekly webinar (25 July 2020), documentary film presentation and debate organized by the Network of the Anthropology of the Middle East and Central Eurasia of EASA in collaboration with the Religion and Society Research Cluster, Western Sydney University.

Introduction to the program by Dr. P. Khosronejad (Western Sydney University), and debate by filmmaker Dr. R. Canals (University of Barcelona), researcher of film Dr. R. Sarró (University of Oxford) and discussant Dr. R. Blanes (University of Gothenburg).

Film presentation: Chasing Shadows

Roger Canals, 2019, 70 minutes, UK / Spain.

Synopsis

This film is directed by Roger Canals and filmed in Guinea-Bissau based on Ramon Sarró and Marina Temudo’s research, offers an intimate portrait of a prophetic movement. In Balanta, the movement is called Kyangyang, a word meaning "shadows", although its followers also call themselves “Children of God”. The Kyangyang prophetic movement was born in the early 1980s among Balanta farmers in rural areas of Guinea-Bissau, after a period of ecological and political crisis and after a young woman called Ntombikte, who died in 2013, started to prophesize and heal after receiving messages from God through her ancestors. She had a massive following among young men and women. Much like the prophetess, her followers could communicate with their ancestors and then either transmit messages from the high God through prophetic art and writing, glossolalia, and divination or heal in collective and individual ceremonies.

Recorded webinar (Week 2) can be watched on: https://vimeo.com/443213755

Week 1: July 11, 2020 10:00 AM in London (7pm Sydney time)

Please join our first biweekly webinar, documentary film presentation and debate organized by the Network of the Anthropology of the Middle East and Central Eurasia of EASA in collaboration with the Religion and Society Research Cluster, Western Sydney University.

Introduction to the program by Dr. P. Khosronejad (Western Sydney University), and debate by Dr. R. Canals (University of Barcelona), Dr. J. Lindsay (John Cabot University), Dr. M. Poltorak (University of Kent), Dr. C. Suhr (Aarhus University).

Film presentation: The Smell of Dust

Majed Neisi, 2002, 11 minutes, Iran.

Synopsis

During the sacred month of Moharram in Iran, Shiite Muslims mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hossein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad. A rumour spread throughout the city of Ahwaz in the south of Iran: Imam Hossein had been sighted in an earth soccer field where the annual passion play (Taziyeh) commemorating him was being performed. The earth of the field was said to be blessed and to miraculously heal the infirm. People came out in droves, often with their infirm in tow; people unable to speak, blind people, cripples, and many more, brought together by their faith in miracles.

Recorded webinar (Week 1) can be watched on: https://vimeo.com/437710625

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