Ghostly Affects: Emotion and subjectivity in contemporary Thai Buddhist mindfulness



Ghostly Affects: Emotion and subjectivity in contemporary Thai Buddhist mindfulness


Fri., Apr 28 2017 - 3:15 PM to 5:00 PM


Monroe 124

Please join Prof. Julia Cassaniti for a talk entitled "Ghostly Affects: Emotion and subjectivity in contemporary Thai Buddhist mindfulness" at UVA.

In this talk, Prof. Julia Cassaniti will discuss how ideas about the person, including those of non-self (anatta) and the multiple spirits that are thought up to make up the self, relate to competing discourses of mindfulness’ psychological associations with 'ghostly' powers of interpersonal feeling. Drawing from fieldwork gathered from over 600 informants in Theravada Buddhist communities in Thailand, Burma, and Sri Lanka, she will report on findings that suggest how mindfulness has become framed through local claims about temporality, affect, power, ethics and subjectivity, and how these framings are changing over time. Through an attention to the meditative and psychiatric approaches to well-being associated with mindfulness in the region’s monasteries and hospitals, she will argue for some of the globalizing political and power-laden connections between cultural contexts and psychological processes that are playing out for people in an increasingly interconnected world.

Julia Cassaniti is an Assistant Professor of Sociocultural Anthropology at Washington State University. She completed her Ph.D. from the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago and conducted postdoctoral work in the Culture and Mind Program with Tanya Luhrmann at Stanford University. With a focus on Buddhist practice in Thailand, Dr. Cassaniti examines the relationships between religious ideas and mental processes as they play out through cultural experience.  Her book Living Buddhism: Mind, Self, and Emotion in a Thai Community (Cornell University Press, 2015) recently won the American Anthropological Association's 2016 Stirling Prize for Best Published Work in Psychological Anthropology; she also studies the experience of supernatural engagements in Buddhism and Christianity in Thailand, India and the United States, and writes on these and related issues in journals of contemporary Buddhism, anthropological theory, and medical psychology. A new book on mindfulness practices in Southeast Asia will be out by Cornell University Press in 2018.