Horizons of possibility through apprehending the inexplicable: modes of questioning science and spirituality in neoliberal Chile

This line of research seeks to understand religiosity within a neoliberal context, as well as the emerging public and expert-related interest in Ufology in Chile, and the conceptualization of de UFO fenomena in the light of the aspirations and sentitivities of people involved in said fenomena. We will attempt to investigate discurses about that which is apparently inexplicable, which implies understanding self-definitions within the different sectors involved (religion, science, general public.)


Diana Espirito Santo • Main Researcher

Diana Espirito Santo (Ph.D UCL, 2009) has worked variously on spirit possession and mediation, in Cuba, with Afro-Cuban espiritismo, in Brazil, with African-inspired Umbanda, and more recently in Chile, where she is currently examining ontologies of evidence in parapsychology movements, paranormal investigation, and ufology. Her interests include personhood, materiality, divination, witchcraft, and technologies. She has published many articles, has written two monographs, and co-edited four volumes, including The Social Life of Spirits (2014, University of Chicago Press), and the recent Articulate Necrographies (Berghahn, 2019).

Lili Almási-Szabó • Doctoral Researcher

My name is Lili Almási-Szabó, a Hungarian economist and anthropologyst. I have completed my BA studies on the faculty of Business Management at Budapest Business School, with a thesis on Symbolic Spiritual Elements of Christmas Traditions in Hungarian Palóc Gastronomy. I was already sure about continuing my studies on Cultural Anthropology, so I stared my MA program at Eötvös Loránd University, on the faculty of Social Sciences. I have done an extensive fieldwork in Chile and wrote my masters thesis on the local ethnic religious tradition of animitas titled: “Where Heaven and Earth Meet” – Roadside Shrines in Chile. I have finished my MA program with academic excellence and also obtained an award for the best thesis of 2016. I have a never-ending passion for fieldwork and social investigations, thus I accepted to work with the team of the Anillo proyect. 

The aim of my PhD research is to find out what religious changes does the Chilean neo-liberal economy and politics cause today in different districs of Santiago. My principal interest is the decreasing popularity of Catholic church among devotees as well as the increasing number of both protestant believers and non-affiliated individuals. I hope to center my dissertation on a local phenomenon that shows well the current social changes in the capital city.

Alejandra Vergara • Research assistant

My name is Alejandra Vergara, I recently (2018) graduated in Social Anthropology in Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. During my undergraduate studies y became interested mainly on topics like social inequality and the social production and reproduction of poverty on a local and global scale. As a student I collaborated on projects that focused on housing issues, prison populations and subjectivity, female neighborhood leaders, global efforts against climate change and women in crafts on tourist locations.  Nowadays I work as a research assistant on the research line “Horizons of possibility through aprehending the inexplicable” and my main interest is on the processes of truth-making that are involved on the UFO experience and other spiritual phenomena.