Professor für Ethnologie und vergleichende Kultursoziologie, Universität Halle-Wittenberg
In 1979, I completed a PhD dissertation on the evil eye. Its central argument was that fear of the evil eye is just as widespread among scientists and philosophers as it is among the superstitious. Ever since, I’ve rarely appeared for a talk without being accused of or celebrated for the mystical/pathological/erroneous assumptions that are alleged to inform my ethnological research. More recently, I’ve been praised for my “openness” to the irrational beliefs of indigenous peoples, and enlisted as a representative of the hippie-inflected anthropologies championed by Hubert Fichte, Hans Peter Duerr, Carlos Castaneda, and the like. After decades of walking the line, I now see my commitments to lie mostly on the rational, analytic side of divide. Accordingly, in this talk I use neuropsychology to account for my experiences with the paranormal in southern Italy. The approaches of neuropsychology raise just as many interesting questions as today’s combative discussions about neo-animism, the history of knowledge, functionalism, and indigenism.
Thomas Hauschild, a leading figure in the “ethnoboom” of the 1970s, has taught cultural and social anthropology at numerous institutions in Germany and abroad, including the University of Tübingen, the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, the University of Münster, La Sapienza in Rome, and the Istituto Orientale in Naples. He is the author of Der böse Blick (1982), Hexen (2001, with Heidi Staschen), Macht und Magie in Italien (2002; translated in 2011 as Magic and Power in Southern Italy), Ritual und Gewalt (2008), and Weihnachtsmann: Die wahre Geschichte (2012). He is a member of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.