No, NDEs are not a "purely a Western phenomenon.”
I was recently invited by by the Religious Studies Project to respond to an interview with another scholar of near-death experiences who argues not just that they're "purely a Western phenomenon," but a Western cultural invention. In other words, there is no such thing as NDEs at all - and accounts of them are only made-up "stories." This is this kind of thing academics are expected to do in their "spare time" - gratis, of course. But how could I not accept the invitation to respond? <click below to go to the article>
I'm not crazy about the title my response was given, because it implies that some really important assumptions about NDEs and the approaches scholars take to studying them are merely "details." It seems to perpetuate the idea that the phenomenon is not a serious subject of study - unless, of course, we dispense with the "details" of conflicting evidence in order to preserve the currently dominating paradigm: that there can be no such thing as a cross-cultural experience that people generally interpret in religious or spiritual ways. With its extremes of postmodernist relativism, not even academia is immune to this "post-truth" era in which unfounded speculations or opinions are given equal value to substantiated research ("we're tired of experts!"). For more about how this impacts the study of NDEs, you can download the attached article for free.