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Whales of Power: Aquatic Mammals, Devotional Practices, and Environmental Change in Maritime East Asia

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 WhoP project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the WhoP project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "WhoP" about.

ryukyu    divine    forced    economic    life    caused    meanings    symbolic    china    expressed    humanities    asian    continue    carry    devotion    objects    longer    ritual    serve    secular    spirits    ethnographic    vietnam    innovative    parts    deities    paradigm    hypothesis    worshipped    conservation    cambodia    displacement    east    least    saving    age    backgrounds    religion    popular    south    beliefs    acquiring    central    region    asia    cetacean    islands    socio    water    understandings    concerned    heritage    capital    lies    relations    worship    coastal    marine    prism    historical    animals    character    maritime    reflect    gods    aquatic    communities    whales    japanese    nature    theoretical    combination    human    cetaceans    local    examine    secularisation    social    environmental    ways    ceremonies    power    attributed    venerated    reconsider    mammals    context    god    combines    symbols    practices    degradation    disciplinary    traditions   

Project "WhoP" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: PROBLEMVEIEN 5-7
city: OSLO
postcode: 313

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Norway [NO]
 Total cost 1˙499˙819 €
 EC max contribution 1˙499˙819 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2018-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2019
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2019-01-01   to  2023-12-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIVERSITETET I OSLO NO (OSLO) coordinator 1˙499˙819.00


 Project objective

In various parts of East Asia, aquatic mammals are associated with divine power, and serve as objects of devotion. In south and central Vietnam, cetaceans are worshipped as life-saving deities. In some Japanese coastal areas, the spirits of whales are venerated during ritual ceremonies. In China, Cambodia and the Ryukyu Islands, aquatic mammals have all been associated with water deities. These animals continue to carry significant symbolic capital today – if no longer as gods, at least as local “heritage” and symbols of nature conservation, acquiring new meanings in the context of secularisation, (forced) displacement, and environmental degradation.

Whales of Power is concerned with the comparative study of human-cetacean relations in maritime East Asia, as expressed in popular worship practices and beliefs. We will examine several of these traditions in different parts of the region, through a combination of historical and ethnographic research. Our main hypothesis is that changes in local worship traditions reflect changes in human-nature relations, which are caused by wider social, economic and environmental developments. Thus, marine mammals and associated worship practices serve as a prism, through which we approach human responses to socio-economic and environmental change in Asian coastal communities.

The innovative character of Whales of Power lies in the ways in which it combines state-of-the-art theoretical approaches from different disciplinary backgrounds in order to reach new understandings of the ways in which human-nature-god relations reflect social and environmental changes. It has three important theoretical objectives: 1) apply recent theoretical developments associated with “environmental humanities” to the comparative study of popular religion; 2) reconsider the role of local worship traditions in the Asian Secular Age, examining the new meanings attributed to ritual practices; and 3) establish a new comparative paradigm in Asian studies.

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The information about "WHOP" are provided by the European Opendata Portal: CORDIS opendata.

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