Dr. Fabian Graham

Dr. Fabian Graham

Social Anthropology

Fabian Graham is a research fellow in the 'Temples, rituals and the transformation of transnational networks' research project headed by Peter van der Veer. Having completed two years of fieldwork in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan on spirit mediumship, rituals and temple culture, he is now working on writing up his research data into a book.

Previously, Fabian studied Taiwan studies, social anthropological analysis and social anthropology in Taipei, Cambridge and SOAS in London. His doctoral dissertation compared the folk Taoist landscapes of Taiwan and Singapore with the aim of locating historical and socio-political explanations for the recent evolution of difference between the two religious cultures. Working closely with spirit mediums and their devotees, and adopting a participatory approach to fieldwork, his analysis encompassed temple-based ritual and material culture, spirit mediumship and trance states, inter-temple organization and expanding temple networks, and the social factors that have influenced the development of these religious elements in each location.

His research interests include the anthropology of Chinese religion, folk and orthodox Taoism, tang-ki spirit mediumship, temple ritual and material culture, the invention and reinterpretation of tradition, ethnographic approaches to the study of religious phenomena, and evolving forms of new syncretic practices in Southeast Asia.


[Forthcoming] ‘Across Borders: The Export of Taiwan’s Lingji practices to Singapore’ in Storm, C & Corcuff, S (eds.) Taiwanizing the World? Positioning Taiwan: Participation – Integration – Impacts. London and New York: Routledge.

[Forthcoming] ‘Chinese Trance Possession, Innovative Traditions and the Creation of New Sacred Space in Singapore: An Ethnographic Perspective’ in Bowie, F., Pierini, E., & Hunter, J. (eds.) The Ethnography of Mediumship: Spirit Worlds, Trance, and Possession. Oxford, New York: Berghahn Books.

[2016] ‘The Temple of Mysterious Virtue – 29th anniversary celebrations, December 27 2013 – Jan 31st 2014, Singapore’. Cultural Diversity in China, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 77-99. Available online at https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/cdic.ahead-of-print/cdc-2016-0003/cdc-2016-0003.xml.

[2014] ‘Vessels for the Gods: Taoist Spirit Mediumship’ in Hunter, J. & Luke, D. (eds). Talking with the Spirits: Ethnographies from Between the Worlds. Brisbane: Daily Grail Press.

[2012] ‘Money God Cults in Taiwan: A Paranthropological Approach’. Paranthropology: Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 9-19.

[2011] ‘Commentary’ on ‘Reflecting on Paranthropology’’. Paranthropology: Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 20-21.