UCSD anthropology professor Thomas J. Csordas hosts colloquium presentation

Cooper Josephs, Staff Writer

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Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, San Diego Thomas J. Csordas spoke of his current ethnographic research on exorcism and its recent revival in the 21st century within the Roman Catholic Church.

Csordas’ current research focuses on the similarities and differences between exorcism in the United States and Italy and the means required to perform an exorcism. According to the Pew Research Center, the Roman Catholic Church had more than 1.1 billion members in 2010 worldwide.

Ethnographic research is a microsociology research method focused on face-to-face interactions among individuals. This type of research uses interpretive analysis reach with descriptive detail rather than statistical analysis methods. Csordas is focusing his research on the United States and Italy because Csordas is familiar with the United States and Italy is the center of the Catholic world.

“After a priest performs an exorcism it can take up to four or five years in order for the individual to be fully recovered,” Csordas said. “Interestingly, about 80 percent of the exrocisms that are performed are on women. While this number is high, I believe it to actually be on the safe side and is likely to be higher.”

Because Csordas is currently working on his project, no conclusions have been generated. Csordas shared several examples of exorcism from the United States and Italy and how a spectrum exists in the church between treatment using psychiatry and exorcism.

“Even though his speech was a little bit hard to follow, the ethnographic research examples were very interesting,” German exchange student Eva Maiberger said.

“I thought the shallow boundaries between exorcism and psychiatry Csordas underlined were very really captured the complicated nature of exorcism,” graduate student Alessandro Andreani said.

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