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Before I introduce our first presenter, I would like to begin by thanking John Postill
for initially organizing the OAC Seminar Series.
I am pleased to announce that our first presenter is John McCreery
, one of the more active members here at the OAC. John was born August 3 1944, raised in a pious Lutheran family in southern Virginia. Graduated from Michigan State University with a B.A. with Honors in Philosophy in 1966 and received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from Cornell University in 1973. His career includes 13 years (1983-1996) as Copywriter and International Creative Director at Hakuhodo, Japan’s second largest advertising agency. From 1994 to 2005, he was a lecturer in the faculty of the Sophia University Graduate Program in Comparative Culture, offering seminars on “Marketing in Japan” and “The Making and and Meaning of Advertising.” His book, Japanese Consumer Behavior: From Worker Bees to Wary Shoppers
was published in March 2000 as part of the the ConsumAsiaN Series (Curzon Press, UK; University of Hawaii Press, USA). Other publications include “Negotiating with demons: The uses of Magical Language,” American Ethnologist,
Vol. 22, No. 1, February 1995, “Malinowski, Magic and Advertising: On Choosing Metaphors,” in John Sherry (ed.) Contemporary Marketing and Consumer Behavior, 1995, and “Traditional Chinese Religion,” in Ray Scupin (ed.) Religion and Culture: An Anthropological Focus,
He will be presenting a working paper entitled, Why do the gods look like that?
The abstract reads as follows:
Nearly half a century has passed since Claude Lévi-Strauss urged anthropologists to search for a “logic in tangible qualities” and Victor Turner proposed that dominant symbols combine a sensory pole that evokes powerful emotions with a cognitive pole where abstract meanings cluster. Material culture has become a thriving subfield of anthropological research. Anthropologists who study Chinese religion continue, however, to look for meanings behind
the images of Chinese gods instead of looking at
them. This paper explores what closer attention to the visible and tangible qualities of Chinese god statues reveals about Chinese religion and its relation to religious traditions in which gods remain invisible.
This seminar will run from 27 April to 11 May 2010. During that time, members of the OAC are welcome to post comments to John about his paper in the discussion forum and he will respond. The seminar will unfold at a leisurely pace, as and when participants, including the presenter, find the time to post. After two weeks, the chair will thank the presenter and discussants, announce the next session and close the seminar.