Otherworldly Relations in CAM Practice
Towards an Ethnography of Non-Secular Possibility Work
Keywords:healing, CAM, de-differentiation , otherworldly relations, destiny, animism, care of the dying, angel therapy
The globalizing culture of health and wellbeing flourishes both as
demand and supply, posing multiple intriguing and critical questions
both to the individuals who face distress and suffering and to the
surrounding society. In the spirit of vernacular religion, this article
enters the discussion of ‘de-differentiation’ between religion and
health, focusing especially on the role of otherworldly relations that
may become part of complementary and alternative medicine and care
and its healing agency. I propose that engagement with otherworldly
relations may be understood in terms of ‘possibility work’ in complex
life situations when conventional healthcare and therapy are apprehended
as insufficient for some reason, or alternatively unavailable.
I draw on two distinct ethnographic projects to exemplify the argument:
care of the dying and contemporary angel spirituality. These
two examples demonstrate how intimate otherworldly relations may
work as important and powerful, albeit also ambivalent and socially
vulnerable, non-secular possibility work in the face of various forms
of anxiety, distress, and suffering in contemporary lives.
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