Professor Owe Wikström
has done some research on India. His main research interest is clinical and psychiatric problems in relation to religious issues. In 1994, he spent one semester as a visiting scholar at the Banaras Hindu University in India.
In 1996 he published Darsán
(to see) Lord Shiva in Varanasi. Visual processes and the representation
of God by seven ricksha-drivers (Scripta Instituti Donneriani
Aboensis, XVI, pp. 105–117).
Viktor Ståhle defended his doctoral dissertation called ”The
Religious Self in Practice at a Hindu Goddess-Temple: A Cultural Psychological
Approach for the Psychology of Religion”, at the department on Friday
17 December 2004. Faculty opponent was Nils G Holm, Dept. of Religious
Studies, Åbo Akademi, Finland. It was
an ethnographic study of a Hindu temple for Goddess Durga worship in Varanasi, India. Before joining the Division of Psychology of Religion, Göran Ståhle worked at the Dept. of Media,
Journalism and Communication at Stockholm University. The combination of disciplines means that he was able to interpret his research
material through theories used in Social Psychology, Cultural Psychology,
as well as in Ritual Theory. Abstract of the thesis: The main objective of this dissertation
is to contribute to the psychology of religion in two ways. First, it
adds to theory development in the field, and second, it provides an original
field study of Hindu everyday-religiosity. This dual-focused objective
is met through the development of theory for a practice-oriented cultural
psychology of religion, grounded in a study of a Hindu goddess-temple
in Banaras (Varanasi), India.
The cultural psychological approach makes use of Bourdieu’s concept
“habitus”. It is argued that employing this concept in theory
development overcomes a dualism of culture and self, and provides an alternative
to previous models in the psychology of religion that interpret religiosity
in either intrapsychical or intersubjective terms. Further, it is argued
that the concept can interpret culture-specific features in Hindu religiosity,
such as an emphasis on practical activity and on a non-dualistic view
of person and world.
A model of a “Religious Self in Practice” is outlined, which
integrates features from theories of “self as narrative practice”
and Bell’s concept “ritualization”. The religious self
is seen as a construction of relational and practical processes, a product
of individuals participating in cultural practices of religiosity, manifested
in a specific local site. Specific persons master the pre-given conventions
of religious self-construction in individual, creative ways.
The study argues that a temple is such a site in a Hindu context. Ethnography
is used to study the cultural practices of the religious self at the site,
and life story interview to study a sample of seven individual ways of
mastering these practices. The study analyzes sacred status at the temple
as being an interplay of individuals’ devotions and common practices
of religiosity. This practical logic is also identified in the life stories
of the devotees as narrative practice of the religious self in relation
to the Goddess.
In his post-doc research, Dr. Ståhle has continued to focus on religiousness in the borderlands between Psychology, Sociology and Social Anthropology, and how this can be related to Health. He has concentrated on studies on how traditional South Asian techniques and ways of thinking – especially Ayurvedic practices – are today used in a Swedish context within the field of Complimentary Medicine as well as in the New Age movements.
Göran Ståhle is now working at the School of Gender, Culture and History at Södertörns högskola in Flemingsberg, south of Stockholm.