Request for consultation
This ethnography, uniquely set in contemporary Iceland, takes an in-depth look at the way supernatural beliefs and practices (long an important subject of anthropology) thrive as an "unnamed, unpretentious, and quiet, nearly silent, spiritual movement that impacts most of the population either directly or indirectly in deeply personal ways." The author lived and worked in Reykjavik, where friends, acquaintances, students, colleagues and spirit mediums talked with him about their experiences of being in contact with spirits of the dead, including deceased loved ones and spirit doctors. Anderson's book is a primary example of signature anthropology methodology, i.e., ethnographic fieldwork or participant observation. He spent time with spirit mediums, joined in group séances, observed and recorded conversations between the living and the dead, arranged for spirit doctors to treat sick friends, and attended lectures at spiritist schools, and coffee klatches of the 'spirit society'.
2. The Menu of Humanoid Possibilities.
3. Ghosts in the Past.
4. Dimensions of Mediumship.
5. Why the Living Dead are Popular.
6. The Ghosts of Childhood.
7. Christian Churches vs. Spiritists.
8. Spiritist Social Life.
9. New Age Elves and Fairies.
10. The Séance as Theater.
11. Failed Conversations with the Dead.
12. The Last Word.
"I like the author’s approach. His first chapter is a good introduction to his fieldwork and establishes the reality of the phenomenon he wants to study. He also is quite good in discussing the problem of anthropological neutrality in looking at religion and his own engagement in the fieldwork process as part of coming to believe in the phenomenon."
"I see this book being used primarily in introductory level courses in cultural anthropology and religious studies and in intro to upper-level undergraduate courses in … science, magic, myth, and/or religion."
"The material is fascinating and the author has an engaging style."