Ben Joffe

Ben Joffe

Student: Cultural Anthropology

Ben Joffe is a South African PhD student whose current work focuses on Tibetan life in exile. His doctoral research specifically concerns Tibetan spirit-mediums in the diaspora, and the socio-politics of ecstatic experience and religious pluralism in exile more generally. He is presently developing research around a key field-site in Pokhara, Northern Nepal. As such, he takes an interest in:

  • Anthropology of spirit-possession
  • Shamanism
  • Religion
  • Ritual
  • Health
  • Healing and illness
  • Performance
  • Consciousness
  • Embodiment
  • Diaspora
  • Nationalism
  • Citizenship

In 2009, Joffe conducted research for his MA in Social Anthropology from the University of Cape Town with the few Tibetans living in South Africa, and has also undertaken research with neo-Pagans in the same country. He is actively involved in the anthropology of Western esotericism, ‘modern’ magical practice, and the study of neo-Pagans, neo-Shamans, ‘spiritual tourism’ and extraordinary or ‘paranormal’ experience.    

Ben is currently planning a multi-sited project that will explore the role and status of Tibetan spirit-mediums and other (more, or less) institutionalized religious functionaries in exile. His research will elaborate upon the complex and frequently ambiguous politics of visionary experience in exile, and consider the multi-layered interactions between researchers, tourists, neo-shamans, mediums, refugees and structures of religious and political authority that contribute to these.