I remember when I was a little girl, I was fascinated with war memorials. Stone colossi towering over people, gravely staring into the infinite as if seeing something none living can see. Looking at these selfless men and women who exchanged their mortal lives for the immortality of memory made me wonder why certain people and events are chosen to be remembered, and others – to be forgotten.
The “great replacement theory”, “white genocide”, and “demographic winter” are all pseudoscientific conspiracy theories that did not begin, nor will they end, with Tucker Carlson or other FOX News personalities. Rather, they represent a number of deeply held American beliefs that remain at the very core of everything you’ve read in the news recently about abortion bans, anti-immigrant legislation, and conflicts over teaching race and history in public schools.
As a COVID long-hauler, I inhabit a liminal space of intractable uncertainty with regards to diagnosis, treatment, recovery, and prognosis. COVID infections have blurred the boundary between the two kingdoms of the well and the sick. A new biosocial identity has emerged from the collective experience of long Covid on a global scale, where we exist ‘betwixt and between’ yet belong to neither kingdom.
Religious commodification is an arena that has gained increasing interest among social scientists, especially where religious symbols and artefacts are being appropriated by both adherents and non-adherents in an attempt to capitalize on growing worldwide markets. In what Sophia Rose Arjana calls the “mystical marketplace,” these objects, many of which are distinctly associated with orientalist versions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, are stripped of their original contexts and then reimagined as representatives of a kind of timeless, exotic, spirituality to be consumed by economically dominant Westerners. But this short thought-piece is about those consecrated objects whose marketing and sale is what made them sacred in the first place (like the Tibetan Singing Bowls but drawn from Harry Potter and Star Wars rather than the Tripitaka and the Mahayana Sutras). This is about a growing link between religion and fandom and the “ritual objects” that the latter now produces.