Religious events in Southeast Asia


Single Panel


Session 6
Wed 11:00-12:30 REC A2.05


Save This Event

Add to Calendar


Show Paper Abstracts


The panel explores the emergence of religious events as significant expressions of public religiosity in the landscape of contemporary Southeast Asia. Moving from secular registers, events constitute today an increasingly common stage for expressing religious belonging while remaining ostensibly outside of the sphere of formal ritual. The panel aims to brainstorm on the emergence of events as a distinct form of the sacred, elaborating on different socio-religious contexts in Southeast Asia.

From “Christian pop” festivals in the Philippines to Universal Studios-sponsored Easter-themed parks in Singapore. From Tablighi mega-assemblies in Malaysia to music shows honouring Magha Puja in Thailand. From the 212 mass gatherings in Jakarta to Buddhist Waisak exhibitions in shopping malls in Bangkok and Surabaya. Religious events are hubs of discourse and practice in which the interests of world religions as they are localised on the ground merge with the avenues of capitalism, pop culture and political militancy. They produce, in the process, new spaces of liminality between the sacred and the secular, as well as new forms of affect in which religious uncanniness is made tangible. As Rev. Ruth Dowson (2020) signalled, moreover, the increasing relevance of religious events – in the form of concerts, shows, tournaments, street protests, political debates – can be seen on a continuum with the broader “eventisation” of sociocultural life at large and they may yield responses that depart significantly from the expected outcomes (Bramadat et al. 2021).

The panel will invite reflections on questions such as: what space do religious events occupy in current (re)enchanted Southeast Asia? How do established religious hierarchies and ritual regimes communicate with a novel form of religious expression, one defined by overtly secular platforms and imaginaries? What distinct forms of religious affect and sociality become manifest under these specific circumstances?