Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Cultural Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Science
Secondary Theme: Materiality
Astrology, shamanism, spirit mediumship, light healing, quantum consciousness -- “New Age” is a catch-all term used, almost always pejoratively, to describe a range of practices thought of as irrational, pseudo-scientific, and culturally appropriative. But in light of the surge of interest in anthropology over the past decade in ontological pluralism, multispecies ethnography, and new materialisms, how might we re-think the movements, practices, ethical commitments, and epistemological and ontological claims associated with “The New Age”? Further, as the global wellness movement expands into a multi-billion dollar industry, a host of health and healing modalities --acupuncture, yoga, meditation, psychedelic therapy, energy work -- once thought of as “New Age” or “alternative” are now marketed as “integrative” and “holistic” and are permeating biomedical institutions. The New Age now seems especially good to think with.
The papers on this panel facilitate a conversation as to how New Age practices and theologies emerge from, travel between, and resist and reject the binaries of science/religion, nature/culture, real and unreal. Collectively, the papers and the concepts they explore – evidence, experience, truth, nature, play – inspire a space to reflect upon the epistemological and ontological foundations of “New Age” life-worlds and how engaging with these life-worlds might push, undermine, and rejuvenate anthropological thought.