“Bio-looping” and the psychophysiological in religious belief and practice: Mechanisms of embodiment in Candomblé trance and possession

Rebecca A Seligman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

This chapter explores the processes that mediate the relationship between sociocultural experiences and bodily responses, in the context of religious devotion. Using ethnographic and psychophysiological data from a study of spirit possession (Brazilian Candomblé), I offer a close examination of interactions among enactments of roles and meanings, and bodily states of mediums. In doing so, I offer insight into the mechanisms of what anthropologists call “embodiment.” In particular, I provide a novel and accessible account of how psychophysiology is implicated in embodiment, providing evidence that embodied learning involved in trance/possession is reflected in distinct patterns of autonomic nervous system regulation among mediums. The concept of “bio-looping” is introduced to capture circular and reinforcing processes through which religious meanings and practices shape bodily experience and functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Biology and Society
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Pages417-439
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781137528797
ISBN (Print)9781137528780
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)

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