Experience, Place, Ritual, and Narrative
The mystery of the mysterious
Throughout history, scholars and laypeople have theorised on supernatural experience. Europeans have debated, for example, whether fairies should be identified as demons, Jungian archetypes, symbols of nature, a race of humans, childhood bogeymen, or liminality made manifest. Is precognition a blessing, a curse, a delusion, or a transfer of spiritual energy? What about encounters with ghosts, gods, aliens, monsters, mermaids, or the Virgin Mary? How comparable are traditions from different cultures and continents? Where do we draw the line between religion, folk belief, science, and entertainment?
This folklore conference will explore past and present supernatural traditions worldwide, focusing on how they relate to experience, place, ritual, and narrative.
An innovative conference format
Folk Belief & Traditions of the Supernatural is an expression of Island Dynamics’ innovative conference concept. The first four days of the conference will be based at the cottages in remote and windswept Saxa Vord, Shetland. From here, we will speak with tradition bearers and visit sites of local legend on the islands of Yell, Unst, and Fetlar. Delegates will prepare meals using local produce and will spend the evenings discussing the nature of the supernatural.
The last two days of the conference will be spent in the town of Lerwick, where delegates will offer academic presentations to the general public on folk belief from around the world. It is planned that papers from this conference will be collected for publication in book form.
Participation and Paper Submission
The conference explores past and present supernatural traditions worldwide, focusing on how traditions are related to experience, place, ritual, and narrative. Besides taking part in talks with community members and visits to sites of local legend, all delegates are expected to give an academic presentation (open to the general public). Presentations should concern aspects of folk belief linked to a specific culture, locality, or region. Comparative and cross-cultural presentations are also welcome.
Only around 20 delegates can take part in the conference, and abstract proposals are considered on a first-come, first-serve basis. It is thus important to submit an abstract as early as possible.