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Editorial notices


journal for qualitative research

ISSN 1211-5770
Registration code MK ČR: E 8364
Published by the civil association Casopis Biograf
Krompach 26, 47157
ICO: 27003213
Two issues per year.
Editor-in-chief: Barbora Spalová (

Text detail

Biograf 2018/67

„Black box“ of the anthropological research: Comments on the study of contemporary spirituality

Tatiana Bužekova

„Black box“ of the anthropological research: Comments on the study of contemporary spirituality

The paper pays attention to the anthropological study of altered states of consciousness (ASC), in particular to the interpretative approach in anthropology. The author places the investigation of ASC in a broader context of the debates on rationality and objectivity of anthropological research that resulted in the emergence of the interpretative trend. These discussions were important in a general change of the anthropological investigation of supernatural beliefs, last but not least in terms of forming anthropologists’ attitudes towards the ontological status of the “other reality”. While in its extreme form the interpretative approach leads to acceptance of its existence and therefore to rejection of the scientific method, most of the mainstream studies imply a moderate stance: the anthropologists do not express a definite opinion on reality of supernatural beings and at the same time they still use the standard ethnographic method rooted in the materialist theoretical platform. The author points out that in the study of ASC such procedure leads to a logical fallacy: it means ambivalence toward the very nature of the research object and results in treating the human mind as a “black box”. If an anthropologist takes on the materialist approach, more detailed study of any state of consciousness should involve contemporary knowledge of the cognitive processes and therefore should refer to the psychological findings.

Associated with texts:

HORSKÁ, K. (2017): V šamanském stavu vědomí: Technika neo-šamanského cestování v kontextu okultury [In the Shamanic State of Consciousness: Shamanic Journeying Technique in the Context of Contemporary Occulture]. Biograf, (65-66): 51-70

Biograf themes:

Religiosity, spirituality, religious communities; Methodology of qualitative research; Anthropology and ethnography


BUŽEKOVÁ, T. (2018): „Čierna skrinka“ antropologického výskumu: Niekoľko poznámok k bádaniu súčasnej spirituality [„Black box“ of the anthropological research: Comments on the study of contemporary spirituality]. Biograf, 67-68: 57-70 . Available at [last access22. 01. 2021]

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