Folk Belief and Traditions of the Supernatural: Experience, Place, Ritual, and Narrative

Organization: Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology, Indiana University

Venue: Shetland Museum and Archives

Location: Lerwick, United Kingdom

Event Date/Time: Mar 25, 2014 End Date/Time: Mar 30, 2014
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This folklore conference explores past and present supernatural traditions worldwide, focusing on how they relate to experience,  place, ritual, and narrative.

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, curse, delusion, or ransfer of spiritual energy? What about encounters with ghosts, gods, aliens, monsters, or the Virgin Mary? How comparable are traditions from different cultures? Where do we draw the line between religion, folk belief, science, and entertainment?

From the evening of 25 March to the afternoon of 28 March, delegates will be based at remote and windswept cottages on the island of Unst, where we will speak with tradition bearers and visit sites of local legend. We will spend the last two nights in Shetland’s main town of Lerwick, where delegates will give academic presentations.

This Island Dynamics conference is a collaboration of the Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology, Indiana University and the Anthropological Institute, Nanzan University.



Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology, Indiana University
Anthropological Institute, Nanzan University

Additional Information

Attendance is limited to 20 delegates, accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you would like to give a talk, send an abstract (150-200 words) and biography (max. 100 words) to convenor Adam Grydehøj at

Expressions are interest are welcome, but to save a place at the event, you must register in the Island Dynamics Store ( Registration rates are 5500 Danish kroner (Student/Partner Organisation Rate) and 6000 Danish kroner (Standard Rate). Registration covers accommodation and travel throughout the event and food from the evening of 25 March to the afternoon of 28 March.