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Enchanting gods and dolphins: a cross-cultural analysis of uncanny encounters
Halloy, A.; Servais, V. (2014). Enchanting gods and dolphins: a cross-cultural analysis of uncanny encounters. Ethos 42(4): 479-504.
In: Ethos. Wiley-Blackwell: Hoboken. ISSN 0091-2131; e-ISSN 1548-1352, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Dolphin encounter; Spirit possession; technology of enchantment;education of attention; ontological uncertainty; sensescape

Authors  Top 
  • Halloy, A.
  • Servais, V.

    The main thrust of our research is to provide a cross-cultural definition of enchantment. Drawing on first-hand accounts of spirit possession in an Afro-Brazilian cult and on Dolphin encounters at sea, we compare the two settings to identify the common features in both people's experiences and the technologies of enchantment that make them possible. According to our findings, the main features of the experience of enchantment are: ontological uncertainty as to the entities involved and the experience itself; uncanny feelings; an attentional focus on inner bodily and mental states; dissociative and hypnoid states; and a shift in perceived agency. We define the technology of enchantment as an "in-between space of practice" (Belin 2002), neither totally material, nor totally subjective, which enables the merging of unusual bodily states with imagination and culturally prepared expectations. Such merging is possible only if the individual is immersed in a sensorily organized environment (sensescape), made up of distributed perceptual saliences, and if a relation based on trust and benevolence is achieved.

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