Enthusiasm as a Technique of Enchantment

Abstract

The term ‘enchantment’ seems to have particular currency among humanities scholars interested in either secularity or affect. Enchantment stands, on the one hand, for the many ways people ‘have never been modern’ in the sense of fully secular, and on the other, for the affective qualities of the world. Rarely are these two categories of religion and emotion as forms of enchantment thought about together. Considering that ‘enchantment’ derives from a somewhat creative translation of the Weberian neologism Entzauberung as ‘disenchantment’, which was explicitly concerned with how rationalization decreased the magic of both religion and emotion, I will argue in this lecture that we should consider both aspects together. I will begin by discussing various conceptions of enchantment that have done so and then propose how we might find an empirical grip on some aspects of enchantment by linking it with enthusiasm as a cultural practice at the nexus of belief and emotion.

Professor Monique Scheer is full professor of historical and cultural anthropology at the University of Tübingen, where she currently also serves as Vice-Rector for International Affairs and Diversity. Among her research interests are religion, secularity, and cultural diversity in modern Germany, the history of emotions, and cultural theory. Recent publications include Enthusiasm: Emotional Practices of Conviction in Modern Germany (Oxford UP 2020), Secular Bodies, Affects, and Emotions: European Perspectives (edited with N. Fadil and B. S. Johansen, Bloomsbury 2019) and The Public Work of Christmas: Difference and Belonging in Multicultural Societies (edited with P. Klassen, McGill-Queen’s UP 2019).

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