An anthropologist who focuses on the edge of experience—on voices, visions, the supernatural and the world of psychosis—will deliver the 35th Loy P. Witherspoon Lecture on Tuesday, Feb. 5, at UNC Charlotte Center City.
Tanya Maria Luhrmann, often cited as T.M. Luhrmann, is the Watkins University Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University. As this year’s Witherspoon lecturer, she will discuss “Shamans and Schizophrenia: How Religious Practice May Change Psychotic Experience.”
The Feb. 5 lecture is open to the public without charge, but registration is required. The event begins with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by the lecture at 7 p.m.
Luhrmann has done ethnography with homeless and psychotic women on the streets of Chicago and has worked with people who hear voices in Chennai, Accra and the South Bay. She also has done fieldwork with evangelical Christians who seek to hear God speak back, with Zoroastrians who set out to create a more mystical faith and with people who practice magic. She uses a combination of ethnographic and experimental methods to understand the phenomenology of unusual sensory experiences, the way they are shaped by ideas about minds and persons and what can be learned from this social shaping to help those whose voices are distressing.
The Loy H. Witherspoon Lecture in Religious Studies, the oldest and most prestigious endowed lecture series at UNC Charlotte, was established in 1984 to honor the distinguished career and service of its namesake, the first chairperson of the Department of Religious Studies at UNC Charlotte. Witherspoon was professor emeritus of philosophy and religion when he died Jan. 15, 2017.