Workshop 'Trance and Folklore'

Univeristät Siegen
Prof. Dr. Erhard Schüttpelz; Dr. Martin Zillinger
22.06.2012 - 22.06.2012
Ludwig Andert

The concept of Folk-Lore was developed as a scientific endeavor in Germany and Britain during the nineteenth century. In search for relics and legacies of antiquity, scholars, artists, and intellectuals from North-Western Europe set off into rural areas and to the Mediterranean where they encountered an »exotic other«. In the rural areas they identified this »other« as a direct successor of a pagan past , and in the Mediterranean as a successor of a pre-Christian and pre-Islamic Mediterranean culture. Searching for rituals and cultural habits, they often encountered ecstatic practices, which fascinated and frightened them and which were soon framed, staged, and sold as folklore. Facing these, to them foreign, local practices, the modern rationalists attempted to neutralize religious fervor and sacred techniques mediating otherworldly powers by aestheticizing them: Skillfully performed body techniques could be put onto a stage, and what was perceived as their ‘tricks’ »demystified«. If the rituals were purified of alleged “superstitions” by local, regional, or national organizations and institutions, they could be administered and used for the rationale of secular progress and nostalgia. Since the eighteenth century, folklore as an academic discipline and folklore as a mode of cultural production have been intertwined in a seamless “invention of tradition.” Both were constituted with the promise of discovering authenticities. The early disillusionment with this quest for authenticity—indeed much earlier than in social and cultural anthropology—drove the academic disciplines of folklore into crisis and reflexivity; they were forced to accept the mutual feedback between themselves and their objects/subjects of study. At the same time, the invention of local, regional, and national traditions has continued, as has the worldwide implementation of touristic and bureaucratic models of folkloristic practices. As traditions, these get operationalized as “cultural heritage” by regional associations, national ministries, and global institutions like the UNESCO. Subsequently, a new field of expertise has been established between bureaucrats, local and transnational entrepreneurs, and practitioners. This may lead to religious practices becoming a commodity that can be converted into a currency of exchange within a global oecumene. Trance rituals are an interesting case in point. While some parts of trance rituals, their techniques, and arts can be staged publicly and controlled by bureaucratic or commercial procedures, a threefold layering of public, intimate, and clandestine contexts of trance practices will always remain. The public staging may appear as a loss of authenticity through tourism and as a nullification of its particularity (which has often been described in a mode of disillusionment), but it may enable a linking up of new localities and groups of actors, too. It may also serve as a protective mask for different and dissident ritual purposes, for intimate and magical practices and arts of resistance. Our workshop invites all participants to reconsider the entanglement of folklore and trance based on their own local encounters and their mutual translations.


09.00 – 9.30 Martin Zillinger (Siegen):
Introduction: Trance and Trans/National Publics

09.30 – 10.30 Marleen de Witte (Amsterdam):
Corpo-Reality TV and the Authentication of African Heritage

11.00 – 12.00 Paolo Israel (Cape Town):
Becoming popular. Mapiko masquerades and the Mozambican nation.

14.30 – 15.30 Peter J. Bräunlein (Bremen/Göttingen):
Authenticity and Irony in Philippine Crucifixion Rites

16.00 – 17.00 Anja Dreschke (Siegen):
Carnival, Reenactment and Trance among the Cologne Tribes

17.00 – 18.00 Wouter Hanegraaff (Amsterdam):
Will-Erich Peuckert's Memories of a Magician

19.00 – 20.00 Thomas Hauschild (Halle), Erhard Schüttpelz (Siegen):
Antiquities, Folklore, and Modernity. General Discussion


Ludwig Andert

Medienwissenschaft, Univerität Siegen, 57068 Siegen

Workshop 'Trance and Folklore', 22.06.2012 – 22.06.2012 Siegen, in: H-Soz-Kult, 29.05.2012, <>.