Whales of Power: Rethinking Human-Animal Relations in Asian Religion. Environmental Lunchtime Discussion

How can the environmental humanities engage more critically with topics of religion? Associate professor in Japan Studies and project leader Aike Rots presents Whales of Power and the research project's main objectives.

fin whale skeleton, display, temple,

Photo: Aike Rots. A large fin whale skeleton on display in Vạn Thủy Tú temple, Phan Thiết city, Vietnam

Whales of Power: Aquatic Mammals, Devotional Practices, and Environmental Change in Maritime East Asia (WhoP) is an ERC-funded research project (2019-2023). The project members study changing ritual practices and human-nature relations in the Asia-Pacific region, with a particular focus on marine mammals. In this Environmental Lunchtime Discussion, project leader Aike Rots introduces WhoP’s main theoretical foci and case studies. As he will explain, one of the main objectives of the project is to rethink multispecies relations and animal agency in the study of religion. In addition, it seeks to contribute to a more critical engagement with the category “religion” within the environmental humanities.


Aike P. Rots is an associate professor in Asian studies at IKOS, University of Oslo. He is the author of Shinto, Nature and Ideology in Contemporary Japan: Making Sacred Forests (Bloomsbury 2017) and the co-editor of Sacred Heritage in Japan (Routledge 2020). His recent journal articles address a variety of topics, including Okinawan sacred groves, Japanese reforestation initiatives, the politics of “heritage” in East Asia, and corporate religion. He is currently doing research on Vietnamese popular religion and environmental change.

About the event series

The OSEH Environmental Lunchtime Discussion series consists of short, 10-15 minute presentations by invited guests, followed by a discussion. We invite speakers from a wide variety of fields, both academic and beyond. The presentations are accessible and are aimed at anyone with an interest in environmental issues. All are welcome, please feel free to bring your own lunch. Coffee will be served.

Tags: Environmental Humanities, HF, IKOS, OSEH, Whales of Power, Asia, Religion
Published Feb. 4, 2020 7:50 PM - Last modified Feb. 4, 2020 7:53 PM