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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.

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

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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