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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.

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

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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