The conference: "Old religion and new spirituality: continuity and changes in the background of secularization"
Countless ethnographies from around the globe refer to life force or similar notions; life force is central to CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medince) and what the World Health Organization calls TM (traditional medicine); EU surveys demonstrate the popularity of 'life force' in a numerous countries, with Estonia being the leader. Yet there is just one publication devoted to the cultural study of life force: The Spirit of Vitalism (2011) in Denmark. Clearly, far more interpretative, analytic, systematic, comparative, explanatory work is called for. I'll dive in at the deep end to tackle the most neglected of issues: theorizing life force. This serves to illuminate the elementary nature of life force, its dynamics, how it regulated,why high life force is valued; and to explain its universal compass. I'll then identify four main varieties of life force (inherent, theistic/polytheistic, non-personal transcendent, secular). Attention is then focussed on Estonia: to explore the validity of the life force thesis (above), to ascertain the popularity of the four varieties (above); to explore the significance (or insignificance) of life forces for cultural, social and personal life; AND: why is Estonia the life force capital of Europe?