Mediumship and Evidence in Australian Spiritualism: Conjunctions of Private and Public

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    In the religion known as modern Spiritualism, mediums publicly describe private details of death. Mediums describe to audience members what their deceased loved ones were like and in many cases how they died. In doing so, mediums aim to prove that there is life after death, as shown by the fact that they are revealing details about deceased people they never met before. Mediums seek to produce evidence at two hinge points: between the spirit world and the world of the physically living and between private knowledge of a person’s character and death and public description and affirmation of them. The chapter is based on research with the Canberra Spiritualist Association in Australia and describes and analyses the “demonstrations” mediums give which are the ritual high point of Spiritualist services. Whereas scholars such as Philippe Ariès and Allan Kellehear have argued that in twentieth-century “Western” societies a split has emerged between the private experience of death and the public management of it, I argue that in Spiritualism the categories of private and public are manipulated in the pursuit of proof that people’s personalities survive physical death and that those people remain interested in actively communicating with loved ones through mediums.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe 'Crossed-Out God' in the Asia-Pacific: Religious Efficacy of Public Spheres
    Editors Julian Millie
    Place of PublicationSingapore
    PublisherSpringer Nature Singapore Pte. Ltd.
    ISBN (Print)9789819933532
    Publication statusPublished - 2023

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