W040
Reflexive transformation and religious revitalisation: perspectives from Southeast Asia

Convenors:
Alexander Horstmann (Tallinn University)
Chair:
Alexander Horstmann
Stream:
Worskhops
Location:
Chem LT3
Start time:
21 September, 2006 at 14:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

In many parts of Southeast Asia a local ethos has survived in confronting processes of globalisation. This local ethos draws sustenance from the reflexive transformation and revitalisation of traditional religious beliefs.

Long abstract:

Southeast Asia is a crossroads of many religious influences, which have always been treated syncretically. One precondition for this basically peaceful syncretism is the fact that the different religious communities largely eschew orthodoxy and content themselves with their followers' commitment to a particular ritual practice (orthopractice). As a result, Southeast Asia still presents a highly complex cultural and religiously dynamic picture. The striving for supremacy of certain world religions is a relatively recent phenomenon in Southeast Asia. It is taking place in the wake of an expansion of the scriptural religions and their interpretation as monotheisms. Although these monotheistic religions largely appear to have superseded indigenous beliefs, in local conditions not only these beliefs but also the mechanisms of conflict regulation shaped by them have both survived. One of these mechanisms is religious practice organised not exactly along confessional lines, but rather incorporating adherents of different religious communities ritually and committing them normatively to common values. In this way, in many parts of Southeast Asia a local ethos has survived in confronting processes of globalisation. This local ethos draws sustenance from the revitalisation of putative traditions, which have simultaneously been subjected to an innovative process of reinterpretation. In this process, moments of a flexible and reflexive confrontation with both expanding world religions and Western modernity can be recognised. Against this background, indigenous religions function not least as a resource for a critique of modernisation. As a result, the creative reappropriation and reflexive transformation of traditional beliefs has far-reaching impacts on interethnic relations - which this workshop intends to analyse.