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2 Nov, Lecture@HU Berlin – Patrice Ladwig: “Reflections on Lao Buddhist Festivals for Ghosts”

Dr. Patrice Ladwig, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle

“Hospitality and Haunting – Reflections on Lao Buddhist Festivals for Ghosts (and beyond)”

Friday, 2 November 2012, 16:00 – 18:00, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Philosophische Fakultät III, Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften, room 117


This presentation explores the anthropological implications of the concept of hospitality in relation to ghosts. It refers to a specific case study drawn from ethnographic material from Laos, but also outlines the wider implications of the human-ghost encounter. First, the presentation will refer to ghosts in Lao Buddhism, which, each year during the ghost festival, are released from hell and appear as disembodied and hideous spectres in the world of the living. This crossing of an ontological boundary, and the subsequent interaction of humans and ghosts can be understood as a process of establishing hospitality in which both guest and host are transformed. Secondly, the presentation will briefly explore to what extend the encounter of humans and ghosts can further be theorized, linking the appearance of spectres and processes of haunting to ideas of justice, the ‘human condition’ and cosmologies of the afterlife.


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