Ioannis GaitanidisMar 31, 2023
Spirituality and Alternativity in Contemporary Japan
Ioannis Gaitanidis' book Spirituality and Alternativity in Contemporary Japan: Beyond Religion? (Bloomsbury, 2022) critically examines the spirituality phenomenon in contemporary Japan by looking at the main actors involved in the discourse: spiritual therapists as practitioners, scholars of spirituality studies, and the people in the publishing industry. Ioannis Gaitanidis challenges the common understanding of spirituality as simply a new emergent form of “religion” by considering alternativity as a framework to understand how it has been framed in relation to something else.
This book critically analyses the creation and effects of spirituality as both discourse and practice in Japan. It shows how the value of spirituality has been sustained by scholars who have wished for a more civic role for religion; by the publishing industry whose exponential growth in the 1980s fashioned those who later identified as the representatives of this “new spirituality culture”; by “spiritual therapists” who have sought to eke out a livelihood in an increasingly professionalized and regulated therapeutic field; and by the cruel optimism of an increasingly precarious workforce placing its hopes in the imagined alternative that the supirichuaru represents.
Ioannis Gaitanidis offers a new transdisciplinary conceptualisation of 'alternativity' that can be applied across and beyond the disciplines of religious studies, media studies, popular culture studies and the anthropology/sociology of medicine.
Raditya Nuradi is a Phd student at Kyushu University. He works on religion and popular culture, particularly anime pilgrimages. His research explores pilgrims' experiences through space and materiality.