Fieldwork concluding session (Cluster 3.4 of the FROGBEAR project), April 20, 2024

In April, final meetings of the various Research Clusters of the FROGBEAR project hosts the final meetings of its various Research Clusters under the general title “From the Ground to the Cloud: Insights from Seven Years of Fieldwork, Training, and Data Collection”. Among these is the concluding session of the Cluster 3.4 “Typologies of Text-Image Relations”, led by GCBS’s Prof. Christoph Anderl, which will convene on April 20th. If you are interested to participate, please register as soon as possible.

Time: 6:00-8:00am Vancouver | 9:00am-11:00am New York | 3:00pm-5:00pm Brussels | 9:00pm-11:00pm Beijing

Among else, the session includes presentations by three GCBS members:

Prof. Christof Anderl’s introductory talk “From the virtual to the physical, and back to the digital: Redefining fieldwork during and after the epidemic” will sum up the activities and research results of Cluster 3.4 during a period characterized by unpredictability and severe restrictions on physical mobility. The emphasis will be on the experiences made during the “virtual fieldwork” which was organized as response to severe travel restrictions during the lock-down periods. This will be contrasted to our “physical” presence in Bangkok when the research objects could be experienced with all our senses, rather than being projected on a two-dimensional screen. Both types of fieldworks naturally necessitated different approaches, as well as modifications in the scholarly and pedagogical methodologies applied in radically different contexts. However, both approaches eventually merged in the form of the digital data produced during and after the fieldwork activities, eventually being integrated in the Frogbear Database of Religious Sites in East Asia housed at the UBC Library.

Anna Sokolova and Massimiliano Portoghese will share their impressions from conducting fieldwork in Bangkok. In this presentation, actual “fieldworkers” will share their manifold experiences during their 10-day stay in Bangkok and – on a more objective level – reflect more generally on the status quo and future of Chinese temples in contemporary Thailand. We will discuss how Chinese temples are integrated into the urban landscape of contemporary Bangkok, how the temples link the interests of multiple social groupings in the area (such as between local residents and administrative units), how the temples have developed multiple extra-religious functions (such as turning into social gatherings/festivities/commemorative spots), and how the temples have engaged highly syncretic repertoires of the lore of deities and of their related ritual practices. Based on our field work experience, we will reflect on how the data that we have collected during our visits to the Chinese temples in Bangkok on the ground can be used to present the evolution of certain religious traditions in Thailand in a diachronically perspectives: in particular, we can trace how certain traditions commonly thought of as “authentically Chinese” have declined in certain areas over the last few decades, while other such traditions have flourished and/or merged with diverse popular believes and practices.