By Subject: Anthropology of Religion
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Essays toward a Literary Anthropology of Nigeria
Nigeria is a country shaped by internal diversity and transnational connections, past and present. Leading Nigerian writers from Chinua Achebe, Amos Tutuola and Wole Soyinka to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Teju Cole have portrayed these Nigerian issues, and have also written about some of the momentous events in Nigerian history. Afropolitan Horizons discusses their work alongside other novelists and commentators, as well as describing the ways in which Nigeria has appeared in foreign news reporting. It is all interwoven with the author’s own anthropological field research in a town in Central Nigeria.
After the Cult
Perceptions of Other and Self in West New Britain (Papua New Guinea)
In many parts of the world the “white man” is perceived to be an instigator of globalization and an embodiment of modernity. However, so far anthropologists have paid little attention to the actual heterogeneity and complexity of “whiteness” in specific ethnographic contexts. This study examines cultural perceptions of other and self as expressed in cargo cults and masked dances in Papua New Guinea. Indigenous terms, images, and concepts are being contrasted with their western counterparts, the latter partly deriving from the publications and field notes of Charles Valentine. After having done his first fieldwork more than fifty years ago, this “anthropological ancestor” has now become part of the local tradition and has thus turned into a kind of mythical figure. Based on anthropological fieldwork as well as on archival studies, this book addresses the relation between western and indigenous perceptions of self and other, between “tradition” and “modernity,” and between anthropological “ancestors” and “descendants.” In this way the work contributes to the study of “whiteness,” “cargo cults” and masked dances in Papua New Guinea.
Agent of Change
The Deposition and Manipulation of Ash in the Past
Roth, B. J. & Adams, E. C. (eds)
Ash is an important and yet understudied aspect of ritual deposition in the archaeological record of North America. Ash has been found in a wide variety of contexts across many regions and often it is associated with rare or unusual objects or in contexts that suggest its use in the transition or transformation of houses and ritual features. Drawn from across the U.S. and Mesoamerica, the chapters in this volume explore the use, meanings, and cross-cultural patterns present in the use of ash. and highlight the importance of ash in ritual closure, social memory, and cultural transformation.
Animism beyond the Soul
Ontology, Reflexivity, and the Making of Anthropological Knowledge
Swancutt, K. & Mazard, M. (eds)
How might we envision animism through the lens of the ‘anthropology of anthropology’? The contributors to this volume offer compelling case studies that demonstrate how indigenous animistic practices, concepts, traditions, and ontologies are co-authored in highly reflexive ways by anthropologists and their interlocutors. They explore how native epistemologies, which inform anthropological notions during fieldwork, underpin the dialogues between researchers and their participants. In doing so, the contributors reveal ways in which indigenous thinkers might be influenced by anthropological concepts of the soul and, equally, how they might subtly or dramatically then transform those same concepts within anthropological theory.
Animism in Rainforest and Tundra
Personhood, Animals, Plants and Things in Contemporary Amazonia and Siberia
Brightman, M., Grotti, V. E., & Ulturgasheva, O. (eds)
Amazonia and Siberia, classic regions of shamanism, have long challenged ‘western’ understandings of man’s place in the world. By exploring the social relations between humans and non-human entities credited with human-like personhood (not only animals and plants, but also ‘things’ such as artifacts, trade items, or mineral resources) from a comparative perspective, this volume offers valuable insights into the constitutions of humanity and personhood characteristic of the two areas. The contributors conducted their ethnographic fieldwork among peoples undergoing transformative processes of their lived environments, such as the depletion of natural resources and migration to urban centers. They describe here fundamental relational modes that are being tested in the face of change, presenting groundbreaking research on personhood and agency in shamanic societies and contributing to our global understanding of social and cultural change and continuity.
Comparative Perspectives on the Voices and Silences of the Dead
Panagiotopoulos, A. & Espírito Santo, D. (eds)
Going beyond the frameworks of the anthropology of death, Articulate Necrographies offers a dramatic new way of studying the dead and their interactions with the living. Traditional anthropology has tended to dichotomize societies where death “speaks” from those where death is “silent” – the latter is deemed “scientific” and the former “religious” or “magical”. The collection introduces the concept of “necrography” to describe the way death and the dead create their own kinds of biographies in and among the living, and asks what kinds of articulations and silences this in turn produces in the lives of those affected.
Contestations, Circumventions, and the Blurring of Therapeutic Boundaries
Naraindas, H., Quack, J., & Sax, W. S. (eds)
Ideas about health are reinforced by institutions and their corresponding practices, such as donning a patient's gown in a hospital or prostrating before a healing shrine. Even though we are socialized into regarding such ideologies as "natural" and unproblematic, we sometimes seek to bypass, circumvent, or even transcend the dominant ideologies of our cultures as they are manifested in the institutions of health care. The contributors to this volume describe such contestations and circumventions of health ideologies, and the blurring of therapeutic boundaries, on the basis of case studies from India, the South Asian Diaspora, and Europe, focusing on relations between body, mind, and spirit in a variety of situations. The result is not always the "live and let live" medical pluralism that is described in the literature.
Subjects: Medical Anthropology Anthropology of Religion
Places, Spirits and Heritage
Balkenhol, M., Blanes, R. L., & Sarró, R. (eds)
Focusing on mobility, religion, and belonging, the volume contributes to transatlantic anthropology and history by bringing together religion, cultural heritage and placemaking in the Atlantic world. The entanglements of these domains are ethnographically scrutinized to perceive the connections and disconnections of specific places which, despite a common history, are today very different in terms of secular regimes and the presence of religion in the public sphere. Ideally suited to a variety of scholars and students in different fields, Atlantic Perspectives will lead to new debates and conversations throughout the fields of anthropology, religion and history.
Becoming Vaishnava in an Ideal Vedic City
Becoming Vaishnava in an Ideal Vedic City centers on a growing multinational community of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) devotees in Mayapur, West Bengal. While ISKCON’s history is often presented in terms of an Indian guru ‘transplanting’ Indian spirituality to the West, this book focusses on the efforts to bring ISKCON back to India. Paying particular attention to devotees’ failure to consistently live up to ISKCON’s ideals and the ongoing struggle to realize the utopian vision of an ‘ideal Vedic city’, this book argues that the anthropology of ethics must account for how moral systems accommodate the problem of moral failure.
Being Bedouin Around Petra
Life at a World Heritage Site in the Twenty-First Century
Petra, Jordan became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985, and the semi-nomadic Bedouin inhabiting the area were resettled as a consequence. The Bedouin themselves paradoxically became UNESCO Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage in 2005 for the way in which their oral traditions and everyday lives relate to the landscape they no longer live in. Being Bedouin Around Petra asks: How could this happen? And what does it mean to be Bedouin when tourism, heritage protection, national discourse, an Islamic Revival and even New Age spiritualism lay competing claims to the past in the present?
Ethnographies of Atheism and Non-Religion
Blanes, R. L. & Outsinova-Stjepanovic, G. (eds)
Drawing on ethnographic inquiry and the anthropological literature on doubt and atheism, this volume explores people's reluctance to pursue religion. The contributors capture the experiences of godless people and examine their perspectives on the role of religion in their personal and public lives. In doing so, the volume contributes to a critical understanding of the processes of disengagement from religion and reveals the challenges and paradoxes that godless people face.
Beyond Conversion and Syncretism
Indigenous Encounters with Missionary Christianity, 1800-2000
Lindenfeld, D. & Richardson, M. (eds)
The globalization of Christianity, its spread and appeal to peoples of non- European origin, is by now a well-known phenomenon. Scholars increasingly realize the importance of natives rather than foreign missionaries in the process of evangelization. This volume contributes to the understanding of this process through case studies of encounters with Christianity from the perspectives of the indigenous peoples who converted. More importantly, by exploring overarching, general terms such as conversion and syncretism and by showing the variety of strategies and processes that actually take place, these studies lead to a more nuanced understanding of cross-cultural religious interactions in general—from acceptance to resistance—thus enriching the vocabulary of religious interaction. The contributors tackle these issues from a variety of disciplinary perspectives—history, anthropology, religious studies—and present a broad geographical spread of cases from China, Vietnam, Australia, India, South and West Africa, North and Central America, and the Caribbean.
Rethinking Magic, Witchcraft and Sorcery
This book seeks a reconsideration of the phenomenon of sorcery and related categories. The contributors to the volume explore the different perspectives on human sociality and social and political constitution that practices typically understood as sorcery, magic and ritual reveal. In doing so the authors are concerned to break away from the dictates of a western externalist rationalist understanding of these phenomena without falling into the trap of mysticism. The articles address a diversity of ethnographic contexts in Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Americas.
Beyond the Veil
Reflexive Studies of Death and Dying
Thamann, A. & Christodoulaki, K. M. (eds)
Looking at the cultural responses to death and dying, this collection explores the emotional aspects that death provokes in humans, whether it is disgust, fear, awe, sadness, anger, or even joy. Whereas most studies of death and dying treat the subject from an objective viewpoint, the scholars in this collection recognize their inherent connection with death which allows for a new and more personal form of study. More broadly, this collection suggests a new paradigm in the study of death and dying.
The Body in Asia
Turner, B. & Yangwen, Z. (Eds.)
The past few decades have seen growing interest in the study of the body. However, the increasing number of exciting and influential publications has primarily, if not exclusively, focused on the body in Western cultures. The various works produced by Asian scholars remain largely unknown to Western academic debates even though Asia is home to a host of rich body cultures and religions. The peoples of Asia have experienced colonization, decolonization, and now globalization, all of which make the ‘body in Asia’ a rewarding field of research. This unique volume brings together a number of scholars who work on East, Southeast and South Asia and presents original and cutting edge research on the body in various Asian cultures.
The Camino de Santiago
Curating the Pilgrimage as Heritage and Tourism
Pilgrimage, as a global activity linked to the sacred, speaks to the special significance of persons, places and events. This book relates these sentiments to the curatorship of the Camino de Santiago that comprises a lattice of European pilgrimage itineraries converging at Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. The detailed analysis focuses on the management of pilgrimage settings as heritage and tourism linked to the shrine of Saint James and gives particular attention to investment guidelines, land use planning regulations, environmental stewardship, information dissemination and museology.
Method and Politics in Anthropological Studies of Cultures
A book in Honour of Klaus Peter Koepping
Rao, U. & Hutnyk, J. (eds)
Transgression is the stock in trade of a certain kind of anthropological sensibility that transforms fieldwork from strict social science to something more engaging. It builds on Koepping’s idea that participation transforms perception and investigates how transgressive practices have triggered the re-theorization of conventional forms of thought and life. It focuses on social practices in various cultural fields including the method and politics of anthropology in order to show how transgressive experiences become relevant for the organisation and understanding of social relations. This book brings key authors in anthropology together to debate and transgress anthropological expectations. Through transgression as method, as discussed here, our understanding of the world is transformed, and anthropology as a discipline becomes dangerous and relevant again.
Christian Politics in Oceania
Tomlinson, M. & McDougall, D. (eds)
The phrase “Christian politics” evokes two meanings: political relations between denominations in one direction, and the contributions of Christian churches to debates about the governing of society. The contributors to this volume address Christian politics in both senses and argue that Christianity is always and inevitably political in the Pacific Islands. Drawing on ethnographic and historical research in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji, the authors argue that Christianity and politics have redefined each other in much of Oceania in ways that make the two categories inseparable at any level of analysis. The individual chapters vividly illuminate the ways in which Christian politics operate across a wide scale, from interpersonal relations to national and global interconnections.
Communities of Faith
Sectarianism, Identity, and Social Change on a Danish Island
Most studies of modern religious change have viewed it as a process of secularization in which the advance of science and technology discredits religious beliefs and destroys religious institutions. Yet religion has stubbornly failed to expire in the West, and in some places is undergoing a resurgence. This book reconsiders secularization theory through a case study of arural island in Denmark where, in the late nineteenth century, a series of powerful religious awakenings electrified its population, dividing it into several large and intense Lutheran movements. After examining the history and social structure of those Protestant groups and revealing their cultural and ideological complexity, the author concludes that the secularization theory is inadequate and that an anthropological approach, focusing on religion's role in creating identity and community for its members, offers much better insight into religious processes.
Immanent Anthropologists, Transcendent Natives, and Unbounded Categories
How might we transform a folk category - in this case religion - into a analytical category suitable for cross-cultural research? In this volume, the author addresses that question. He critically explores various approaches to the problem of conceptualizing religion, particularly with respect to certain disciplinary interests of anthropologists. He argues that the concept of family resemblances, as that concept has been refined and extended in prototype theory in the contemporary cognitive sciences, is the most plausible analytical strategy for resolving the central problem of the book. In the solution proposed, religion is conceptualized as an affair of "more or less" rather than a matter of "yes or no," and no sharp line is drawn between religion and non-religion.
Healing and Magic in Contemporary Russia
Notions of magic and healing have been changing over past years and are now understood as reflecting local ideas of power and agency, as well as structures of self, subjectivity and affect. This study focuses on contemporary urban Russia and, through exploring social conditions, conveys the experience of living that makes magic logical. By following people’s own interpretations of the work of magic, the author succeeds in unraveling the logic of local practice and local understanding of affliction, commonly used to diagnose the experiences of illness and misfortune.
Subjects: Medical Anthropology Anthropology of Religion
Contemporary Pagan and Native Faith Movements in Europe
Colonialist and Nationalist Impulses
Rountree, K. (ed)
Pagan and Native Faith movements have sprung up across Europe in recent decades, yet little has been published about them compared with their British and American counterparts. Though all such movements valorize human relationships with nature and embrace polytheistic cosmologies, practitioners’ beliefs, practices, goals, and agendas are diverse. Often side by side are groups trying to reconstruct ancient religions motivated by ethnonationalism—especially in post-Soviet societies—and others attracted by imported traditions, such as Wicca, Druidry, Goddess Spirituality, and Core Shamanism. Drawing on ethnographic cases, contributors explore the interplay of neo-nationalistic and neo-colonialist impulses in contemporary Paganism, showing how these impulses play out, intersect, collide, and transform.
Emergent Socialities and the Post-Nation-State
Kapferer, B., Telle, K. & Eriksen, A. (Eds.)
The last decade has seen an unexpected return of the religious, and with it the creation of new kinds of social forms alongside new fusions of political and religious realms that high modernity kept distinct. For a fuller understanding of what this means for society in the context of globalization, it is necessary to rethink the relationship between the religious and the secular; the contributors - all leading scholars in anthropology - do just that, some even arguing that secularization itself now takes a religious form. Combining theoretical reflection with vivid ethnographic explorations, this essential collection is designed to advance a critical understanding of social and personal religious experience in today's world.
Conversion After Socialism
Disruptions, Modernisms and Technologies of Faith in the Former Soviet Union
Pelkmans, M. (ed)
The large and sudden influx of missionaries into the former Soviet Union after seventy years of militant secularism has been controversial, and the widespread occurrence of conversion has led to anxiety about social and national disintegration. Although these concerns have been vigorously discussed in national arenas, social scientists have remained remarkably silent about the subject. This volume’s focus on conversion offers a novel approach to the dislocations of the postsocialist experience. In eight well researched ethnographic accounts the authors analyze a range of missionary encounters as well as aspects of conversion and "anti-conversion" in different parts of the region, thus challenging the problematic idea that religious life after socialism involved a simple "revival" of repressed religious traditions. Instead, they unravel the unexpected twists and turns of religious dynamics, and the processes that have challenged popular ideas about religion and culture. The contributions show how conversion is rooted in the disruptive qualities of the new "capitalist experience" and document its unsettling effects on the individual and social level.
Cosmos, Gods and Madmen
Frameworks in the Anthropologies of Medicine
Littlewood, R. & Lynch, R. (eds)
The social anthropology of sickness and health has always been concerned with religious cosmologies: how societies make sense of such issues as prediction and control of misfortune and fate; the malevolence of others; the benevolence (or otherwise) of the mystical world; local understanding and explanations of the natural and ultra-human worlds. This volume presents differing categorizations and conflicts that occur as people seek to make sense of suffering and their experiences. Cosmologies, whether incorporating the divine or as purely secular, lead us to interpret human action and the human constitution, its ills and its healing and, in particular, ways which determine and limit our very possibilities.
Subjects: Medical Anthropology Anthropology of Religion
Culture Change and Ex-Change
Syncretism and Anti-Syncretism in Bena, Eastern Highlands, Papua New Guinea
How is cultural change perceived and performed by members of the Bena Bena language group, who live in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea? In her analysis, Knapp draws upon existing bodies of work on ‘culture change’, ‘exchange’ and ‘person’ in Melanesia but brings them together in a new way by conjoining traditional models with theoretical approaches of the new Melanesian ethnography and with collaborative, reflexive and reverse anthropology.
Day of the Dead
When Two Worlds Meet in Oaxaca
Haley, S. & Fukuda, C.
The Day of the Dead is the most important annual celebration in Oaxaca, Mexico. Skillfully combining textual information and photographic imagery, this book begins with a discussion of the people of Oaxaca, their way of life, and their way of looking at the world. It then takes the reader through the celebration from the preparations that can begin months in advance through to the private gatherings in homes and finally to the cemetery where the villagers celebrate together — both the living and the dead. The voices in the book are of those people who have participated in the Day of the Dead for as long as they can remember. There are no ghosts here. Only the souls of loved ones who have gone to the Village of the Dead and who are allowed to return once a year to be with their family. Very readable and beautifully illustrated, this book provides an extensive discussion of the people of Oaxaca, their way of life and their beliefs, which make the Day of the Dead logical and easily comprehensible.
Death, Materiality and Mediation
An Ethnography of Remembrance in Ireland
In Death, Materiality and Mediation, Barbara Graham analyzes a diverse range of objects associated with remembrance in both the public and private arenas through ethnography of communities on both sides of the Irish border. In doing so, she explores the materially mediated interactions between the living and the dead, revealing the physical, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual roles of the dead in contemporary communities. Through this study, Graham expands the concept of materiality to include narrative, song, senses, emotions, ephemera and embodied experience. She also examines how modern practices are informed by older beliefs and folk religion.
The Devil is Disorder
Bodies, Spirits and Misfortune in a Trinidadian Village
What role might the Devil have in health and illness? The Devil is Disorder explores constructions of the body, health, illness and wider misfortune in a Trinidadian village where evangelical Christianity is growing in popularity. Based on long-term ethnography and locating the village in historical and global context, the book takes a nuanced cosmological approach to situate evangelical Christian understandings as shaping and being shaped by their context and, in the process, shaping individuals themselves. As people move from local to global subjects, health here stretches beyond being a matter of individual bodies and is connected to worldwide flows and networks, spirit entities, and expansive moral orders.
Difference and Sameness as Modes of Integration
Anthropological Perspectives on Ethnicity and Religion
Schlee, G. & Horstmann, A. (eds)
What does it mean to “fit in?” In this volume of essays, editors Günther Schlee and Alexander Horstmann demystify the discourse on identity, challenging common assumptions about the role of sameness and difference as the basis for inclusion and exclusion. Armed with intimate knowledge of local systems, social relationships, and the negotiation of people’s positions in the everyday politics, these essays tease out the ways in which ethnicity, religion and nationalism are used for social integration.
Prophetism, Messianism and the Development of the Spirit
For millennia, messianic visions of redemption have inspired men and women to turn against unjust and oppressive orders. Yet these very same traditions are regularly decried as antecedents to the violent and authoritarian ideologies of modernity. Informed in equal parts by theology and historical theory, this book offers a provocative exploration of this double-edged legacy. Author Jayne Svenungsson rigorously pursues a middle path between utopian arrogance and an enervated postmodernism, assessing the impact of Jewish and Christian theologies of history on subsequent thinkers, and in the process identifying a web of spiritual and intellectual motifs extending from ancient Jewish prophets to contemporary radicals such as Giorgio Agamben and Slavoj Zizek.
Subjects: Anthropology of Religion History (General)
The Domain of Constant Excess
Plural Worship at the Munnesvaram Temples in Sri Lanka
The Sri Lankan ethnic conflict that has occurred largely between Sinhala Buddhists and Tamil Hindus is marked by a degree of religious tolerance that sees both communities worshiping together. This study describes one important site of such worship, the ancient Hindu temple complex of Munnesvaram. Standing adjacent to one of Sri Lanka's historical western ports, the fortunes of the Munnesvaram temples have waxed and waned through the years of turbulence, violence and social change that have been the country's lot since the advent of European colonialism in the Indian Ocean. Bastin recounts the story of these temples and analyses how the Hindu temple is reproduced as a center of worship amidst conflict and competition.
The Dream in Islam
From Qur'anic Tradition to Jihadist Inspiration
Edgar, I. R.
The war in the Middle East is marked by a lack of cultural knowledge on the part of the western forces, and this book deals with another, widely ignored element of Islam—the role of dreams in everyday life. The practice of using night dreams to make important life decisions can be traced to Middle Eastern dream traditions and practices that preceded the emergence of Islam. In this study, the author explores some key aspects of Islamic dream theory and interpretation as well as the role and significance of night dreams for contemporary Muslims. In his analysis of the Islamic debates surrounding the role of “true” dreams in historical and contemporary Islamic prophecy, the author specifically addresses the significance of Al-Qaeda and Taliban dream practices and ideology. Dreams of “heaven,” for example, are often instrumental in determining Jihadist suicidal action, and “heavenly” dreams are also evidenced within other contemporary human conflicts such as Israel–Palestine and Kosovo–Serbia. By exploring patterns of dreams within this context, a cross-cultural, psychological, and experiential understanding of the role and significance of such contemporary critical political and personal imagery can be achieved.
Durkheim in Dialogue
A Centenary Celebration of The Elementary Forms of Religious Life
Hausner, S. L. (ed)
One hundred years after the publication of the great sociological treatise, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, this new volume shows how aptly Durkheim¹s theories still resonate with the study of contemporary and historical religious societies. The volume applies the Durkheimian model to multiple cases, probing its resilience, wondering where it might be tweaked, and asking which aspects have best stood the test of time. A dialogue between theory and ethnography, this book shows how Durkheimian sociology has become a mainstay of social thought and theory, pointing to multiple ways in which Durkheim¹s work on religion remains relevant to our thinking about culture.
Encounters of Body and Soul in Contemporary Religious Practices
Fedele, A. & Blanes, R. L. (eds)
Social scientists and philosophers confronted with religious phenomena have always been challenged to find a proper way to describe the spiritual experiences of the social group they were studying. The influence of the Cartesian dualism of body and mind (or soul) led to a distinction between non-material, spiritual experiences (i.e., related to the soul) and physical, mechanical experiences (i.e., related to the body). However, recent developments in medical science on the one hand and challenges to universalist conceptions of belief and spirituality on the other have resulted in “body” and “soul” losing the reassuring solid contours they had in the past. Yet, in “Western culture,” the body–soul duality is alive, not least in academic and media discourses. This volume pursues the ongoing debates and discusses the importance of the body and how it is perceived in contemporary religious faith: what happens when “body” and “soul” are un-separated entities? Is it possible, even for anthropologists and ethnographers, to escape from “natural dualism”? The contributors here present research in novel empirical contexts, the benefits and limits of the old dichotomy are discussed, and new theoretical strategies proposed.
A Moral Anthropology
Olsen, W. C. & Csordas, T. J. (eds)
Anthropologists have expressed wariness about the concept of evil even in discussions of morality and ethics, in part because the concept carries its own cultural baggage and theological implications in Euro-American societies. Addressing the problem of evil as a distinctly human phenomenon and a category of ethnographic analysis, this volume shows the usefulness of engaging evil as a descriptor of empirical reality where concepts such as violence, criminality, and hatred fall short of capturing the darkest side of human existence.
Engaging the Spirit World
Popular Beliefs and Practices in Modern Southeast Asia
Endres, K. W. & Lauser, A. (eds)
In many parts of the contemporary world, spirit beliefs and practices have taken on a pivotal role in addressing the discontinuities and uncertainties of modern life. The myriad ways in which devotees engage the spirit world show the tremendous creative potential of these practices and their innate adaptability to changing times and circumstances. Through in-depth anthropological case studies from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam, the contributors to this book investigate the role and impact of different social, political, and economic dynamics in the reconfiguration of local spirit worlds in modern Southeast Asia. Their findings contribute to the re-enchantment debate by revealing that the “spirited modernities” that have emerged in the process not only embody a distinct feature of the contemporary moment, but also invite a critical rethinking of the concept of modernity itself.
Entrepreneurs of Identity
The Islamic State’s Symbolic Repertoire
Describing the Islamic State’s ideologues as ‘entrepreneurs of identity’, this book explores how the group defined categories of social identity and used these categories as tools of communicative and cognitive structuring. Based on a wide dossier of original texts, speeches, images, and videos, the book examines how these ideologues have built a symbolic repertoire around the black flag as well as ideas and social practices such as the dictum to command good and forbid wrong, the supervision of public behaviour, and the oath of allegiance to the Caliph.
Evil Eye in Christian Orthodox Society
A Journey from Envy to Personhood
Evil eye is a phenomenon observed globally and has to do with the misfortune and calamities that we can cause to someone else out of jealousy of their possessions. The book engages with evil eye beliefs in Corfu and investigates the Christian Orthodox influences on the phenomenon and how it affects individuals’ reactions to it. Developing an interdisciplinary dialogue, it offers a fresh view of evil eye as a facilitator of wellbeing rather than a generator of calamities.
Pious Muslims in a German City
In the southern German city of Stuttgart lives a pious Muslim population that has merged with the local population to create a meaningful shared existence. In this ethnographic account, the author introduces and examines the lives of ordinary residents, neighborhoods, and mosque communities to analyze moments and spaces where Muslims and non-Muslims engage with each other and accommodate their respective needs. These accounts show that even in the face of resentment and discrimination, this pious population has indeed become an integral part of the urban community.
Subjects: Urban Studies Anthropology of Religion
Fate Calculation Experts
Diviners Seeking Legitimation in Contemporary China
Having long been stigmatized as an immoral and even illegal “superstition”, the popular practice of divination is experiencing a revival in contemporary China. Fate Calculation Experts explores how diviners attempt to achieve legitimation in a society which identifies strongly with modernity, science, and rationality. As well as associating with modern knowledge production systems, diviners build a positive social image for their occupation via claims to moral authority and appeals to “tradition”. Beyond matters of image management, diviners’ efforts towards legitimation also figure in the social relationships and fundamental cultural values they develop in their practice.
Fortune and the Cursed
The Sliding Scale of Time in Mongolian Divination
Innovation-making is a classic theme in anthropology that reveals how people fine-tune their ontologies, live in the world and conceive of it as they do. This ethnographic study is an entrance into the world of Buryat Mongol divination, where a group of cursed shamans undertake the ‘race against time’ to produce innovative remedies that will improve their fallen fortunes at an unconventional pace. Drawing on parallels between social anthropology and chaos theory, the author gives an in-depth account of how Buryat shamans and their notion of fortune operate as ‘strange attractors’ who propagate the ongoing process of innovation-making. With its view into this long-term ‘cursing war’ between two shamanic factions in a rural Mongolian district, and the comparative findings on cursing in rural China, this book is a needed resource for anyone with an interest in the anthropology of religion, shamanism, witchcraft and genealogical change.
Subjects: Medical Anthropology Anthropology of Religion
Funerals in Africa
Explorations of a Social Phenomenon
Jindra, M. & Noret, J. (eds)
Across Africa, funerals and events remembering the dead have become larger and even more numerous over the years. Whereas in the West death is normally a private and family affair, in Africa funerals are often the central life cycle event, unparalleled in cost and importance, for which families harness vast amounts of resources to host lavish events for multitudes of people with ramifications well beyond the event. Though officials may try to regulate them, the popularity of these events often makes such efforts fruitless, and the elites themselves spend tremendously on funerals. This volume brings together scholars who have conducted research on funerary events across sub-Saharan Africa. The contributions offer an in-depth understanding of the broad changes and underlying causes in African societies over the years, such as changes in religious beliefs, social structure, urbanization, and technological changes and health.
God-botherers and Other True-believers
Gandhi, Hitler, and the Religious Right
Bailey, F. G.
When reason fails to guide us in our everyday lives, we turn to faith, to religion; we close our minds; we reject austere reasoning. This rejection, which is a faith-based social and intellectual malignancy, has two unfortunate consequences: it blocks the way to knowledge that might enhance the quality of life and it opens the way to charlatans who exploit the faith of others. Examining two unquestionable malignancies of “the Christian Right” in present-day politics in the United States and the “secular religion” of Hitler’s National Socialism, as well as the third, more complex case of Gandhi, the author asserts that we need religion, but we also need to make sure it does no harm.
A Goddess in Motion
Visual Creativity in the Cult of María Lionza
The current practice of the cult of María Lionza is one of the most important and yet unexplored religious practices in Venezuela. Based on long-term fieldwork, this book explores the role of images and visual culture within the cult. By adopting a relational approach, A Goddess in Motion shows how the innumerable images of this goddess—represented as an Indian, white or mestizo woman—move constantly from objects to bodies, from bodies to dreams, and from the religion domain to the art world. In short, this book is a fascinating study that sheds light on the role of visual creativity in contemporary religious manifestations.
The Intellectual Pursuit of the Sacred Reinvented
Riley, A. T.
The Durkheimians have traditionally been understood as positivist, secular thinkers, fully within the Enlightenment project of limitless reason and progress. In a radical revision of this view, this book persuasively argues that the core members of the Durkheimian circle (Durkheim himself, Marcel Mauss, Henri Hubert and Robert Hertz) are significantly more complicated than this. Through his extensive analysis of large volumes of correspondence as well as historical and macro-sociological mappings of the intellectual and social worlds in which the Durkheimian project emerged, the author shows the Durkheimian project to have constituted a quasi-religious quest in ways much deeper than most interpreters have thought. Their fascination, both personal and intellectual, with the sacred is the basis on which the author reconstructs some important components of modern French intellectual history, connecting Durkheimian thought to key representatives of French poststructuralism and postmodernism: Bataille, Foucault, Derrida, Baudrillard, and Deleuze.
Subjects: Sociology Anthropology of Religion
Going to Pentecost
An Experimental Approach to Studies in Pentecostalism
Eriksen, A. Blanes, R. L., MacCarthy, M.
Co-authored by three anthropologists with long–term expertise studying Pentecostalism in Vanuatu, Angola, and Papua New Guinea/the Trobriand Islands respectively, Going to Pentecost offers a comparative study of Pentecostalism in Africa and Melanesia, focusing on key issues as economy, urban sociality, and healing. More than an ordinary comparative book, it recognizes the changing nature of religion in the contemporary world – in particular the emergence of “non-territorial” religion (which is no longer specific to places or cultures) – and represents an experimental approach to the study of global religious movements in general and Pentecostalism in particular.
Emergence and Convergence
Parkin, D. & Ulijaszek, S. (eds)
Given the broad reach of anthropology as the science of humankind, there are times when the subject fragments into specialisms and times when there is rapprochement. Rather than just seeing them as reactions to each other, it is perhaps better to say that both tendencies co-exist and that it is very much a matter of perspective as to which is dominant at any moment. The perspective adopted by the contributors to this volume is that some anthropologists have, over the last decade or so, been paying considerable attention to developments in the study of social and biological evolution and of material culture, and that this has brought social, material cultural and biological anthropologists closer to each other and closer to allied disciplines such as archaeology and psychology.
A more eclectic anthropology once characteristic of an earlier age is thus re-emerging. The new holism does not result from the merging of sharply distinguished disciplines but from among anthropologists themselves who see social organization as fundamentally a problem of human ecology, and, from that, of material and mental creativity, human biology, and the co-evolution of society and culture. It is part of a wider interest beyond anthropology in the origins and rationale of human activities, claims and beliefs, and draws on inferential or speculative reasoning as well as ‘hard’ evidence. The book argues that, while usefully borrowing from other subjects, all such reasoning must be grounded in prolonged, intensive and linguistically-informed fieldwork and comparison.
Imagining Bosnian Muslims in Central Europe
Representations, Transfers and Exchanges
Šístek, F. (ed)
As a Slavic-speaking religious and ethnic “Other” living just a stone’s throw from the symbolic heart of the continent, the Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina have long occupied a liminal space in the European imagination. To a significant degree, the wider representations and perceptions of this population can be traced to the reports of Central European—and especially Habsburg—diplomats, scholars, journalists, tourists, and other observers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This volume assembles contributions from historians, anthropologists, political scientists, and literary scholars to examine the political, social, and discursive dimensions of Bosnian Muslims’ encounters with the West since the nineteenth century.
Subjects: History (General) Anthropology of Religion
Islam and New Kinship
Reproductive Technology and the Shariah in Lebanon
Assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization have provoked global controversy and ethical debate. This book provides a groundbreaking investigation into those debates in the Islamic Middle East, simultaneously documenting changing ideas of kinship and the evolving role of religious authority in the region through a combination of in-depth field research in Lebanon and an exhaustive survey of the Islamic legal literature. Lebanon, home to both Sunni and Shiite Muslim communities, provides a valuable site through which to explore the overall dynamism and diversity of global Islamic debate. As this book shows, Muslim perspectives focus on the moral propriety of such controversial procedures as the use of donor sperm and eggs as well as surrogacy arrangements, which are allowed by some authorities using surprising and innovative legal arguments. These arguments challenge common stereotypes of the rigidity and conservatism of Islamic law and compel us to question conventional contrasts between ‘liberal’ and Islamic notions of moral freedom, as well as the epistemological assumptions of anthropology’s own ‘new kinship studies’. This book will be essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary Islam and the impact of reproductive technology on the global social imaginary.
Jaguars of the Dawn
Spirit Mediumship in the Brazilian Vale do Amanhecer
The Brazilian Spiritualist Christian Order Vale do Amanhecer (Valley of the Dawn) is the place where the worlds of the living and the spirits merge and the boundaries between lives are regularly crossed. Drawing upon over a decade of extensive fieldwork in temples of the Amanhecer in Brazil and Europe, the author explores how mediums understand their experiences and how they learn to establish relationships with their spirit guides. She sheds light on the ways in which mediumistic development in the Vale do Amanhecer is used for therapeutic purposes and informs notions of body and self, of illness and wellbeing.
The Land Is Dying
Contingency, Creativity and Conflict in Western Kenya
Geissler, P. W. & Prince, R. J.
Based on several years of ethnographic fieldwork, the book explores life in and around a Luo-speaking village in western Kenya during a time of death. The epidemic of HIV/AIDS affects every aspect of sociality and pervades villagers' debates about the past, the future and the ethics of everyday life. Central to such debates is a discussion of touch in the broad sense of concrete, material contact between persons. In mundane practices and in ritual acts, touch is considered to be key to the creation of bodily life as well as social continuity. Underlying the significance of material contact is its connection with growth – of persons and groups, animals, plants and the land – and the forward movement of life more generally. Under the pressure of illness and death, economic hardship and land scarcity, as well as bitter struggles about the relevance and application of Christianity and ‘Luo tradition’ in daily life, people find it difficult to agree about the role of touch in engendering growth, or indeed about the aims of growth itself.
Subjects: Medical Anthropology Anthropology of Religion
The Last Shaman
Change in an Amazonian Community
The Arakmbut are an indigenous people who live in the Madre de Dios region of the southeastern Peruvian rain forest. Since their first encounters with missionaries in the 1950s,they have shown resilience and a determination to affirm their identity in the face of many difficulties. During the last fifteen years, Arakmbut survival has been under threat from a goldrush that has attracted hundreds of colonists onto their territories. This trilogy of books traces the ways in which the Arakmbut overcome the dangers that surround them: their mythology and cultural strength; their social flexibility; and their capacity to incorporate non-indigenous concepts and activities into their defence strategies. Each area is punctuated by the constant presence of the invisible spirit, which provides a seamless theme connecting the books to each other.
The death of a shaman in 1980 had an enormous spiritual and political consequences for one of the Arakmbut communities, resulting in a shift in its social organization from comparative hierarchy to a more egalitarian system. The author uses this case as an illustration to challenge the idea that indigenous peoples live in fossilized, static worlds. He shows that political activities in conjunction with shamanic communication with the spirit world provide the impetus and context for change.
Berliner, D. & Sarró, R. (eds)
As we enter the 21st century, it becomes increasingly difficult to envisage a world detached from religion or an anthropology blind to its study. Yet, how people become religious is still poorly studied. This volume gathers some of the most distinguished scholars in the field to offer a new perspective for the study of religion, one that examines the works of transmission and innovation through the prism of learning. They argue that religious culture is socially and dynamically constructed by agents who are not mere passive recipients but engaged in active learning processes. Finding a middle way between the social and the cognitive, they see learning religions not as a mechanism of “downloading” but also as a social process with its relational dimension.
The Limits of Meaning
Case Studies in the Anthropology of Christianity
Engelke, M. & Tomlinson, M. (eds)
Too often, anthropological accounts of ritual leave readers with the impression that everything goes smoothly, that rituals are "meaningful events." But what happens when rituals fail, or when they seem "meaningless"? Drawing on research in the anthropology of Christianity from around the globe, the authors in this volume suggest that in order to analyze meaning productively, we need to consider its limits. This collection is a welcome new addition to the anthropology of religion, offering fresh debates on a classic topic and drawing attention to meaning in a way that other volumes have for key terms like "culture" and "fieldwork.
The Link with Nature and Divine Meditations in Asia
Formoso, B. (ed)
Peasant societies in many parts of the world regulate their relationship with the natural environment through earth gods who anchor a group of families not in genealogical terms, as in the case of ancestors, but in ecological terms. The articles in this volume illustrate the role of, and the cultural activities surrounding, the earth gods in rural communities in Asian societies. More specifically, they show that, within the Asian context, it is possible to differentiate between two modes representing the earth gods and the relationship with nature, i.e., one that corresponds to state societies and the other to tribal ones.
The Living Ancestors
Shamanism, Cosmos and Cultural Change among the Yanomami of the Upper Orinoco
This phenomenologically oriented ethnography focuses on experiential aspects of Yanomami shamanism, including shamanistic activities in the context of cultural change. The author interweaves ethnographic material with theoretical components of a holographic principle, or the idea that the “part is equal to the whole,” which is embedded in the nature of the Yanomami macrocosm, human dwelling, multiple-soul components, and shamans’ relationships with embodied spirit-helpers. This book fills an important gap in the regional study of Yanomami people, and, on a broader scale, enriches understanding of this ancient phenomenon by focusing on the consciousness involved in shamanism through firsthand experiential involvement.
Religion in Germany since 1945
As the birthplace of the Reformation, Germany has been the site of some of the most significant moments in the history of European Christianity. Today, however, its religious landscape is one that would scarcely be recognizable to earlier generations. This groundbreaking survey of German postwar religious life depicts a profoundly changed society: congregations shrink, private piety is on the wane, and public life has almost entirely shed its Christian character, yet there remains a booming market for syncretistic and individualistic forms of “popular religion.” Losing Heaven insightfully recounts these dramatic shifts and explains their consequences for German religious communities and the polity as a whole.
Magical House Protection
The Archaeology of Counter-Witchcraft
Belief in magic and particularly the power of witchcraft was once a deep and enduring presence in popular culture; people created and concealed many objects to protect themselves from harmful magic. Detailed are the principal forms of magical house protection in Britain and beyond from the fourteenth century to the present day. Witch-bottles, dried cats, horse skulls, written charms, protection marks and concealed shoes were all used widely as methods of repelling, diverting or trapping negative energies. Many of these practices and symbols can be found around the globe, demonstrating the universal nature of efforts by people to protect themselves from witchcraft.
Making Bodies Kosher
The Politics of Reproduction among Haredi Jews in England
For Haredi Jews, reproduction is entangled with issues of health, bodily governance and identity. This is an analysis of the ways in which Haredi Jews negotiate healthcare services using theoretical perspectives in political philosophy. It is the first archival and ethnographic study of Haredi Jews in the UK and sits at the intersection of medical anthropology, social history and Jewish studies. It will allow readers to understand how reproductive care issues affect this growing minority population.
The Making of the Pentecostal Melodrama
Religion, Media and Gender in Kinshasa
How religion, gender, and urban sociality are expressed in and mediated via television drama in Kinshasa is the focus of this ethnographic study. Influenced by Nigerian films and intimately related to the emergence of a charismatic Christian scene, these teleserials integrate melodrama, conversion narratives, Christian songs, sermons, testimonies, and deliverance rituals to produce commentaries on what it means to be an inhabitant of Kinshasa.
A Matter of Belief
Christian Conversion and Healing in North-East India
‘Nagaland for Christ’ and ‘Jesus Saves’ are familiar slogans prominently displayed on public transport and celebratory banners in Nagaland, north-east India. They express an idealization of Christian homogeneity that belies the underlying tensions and negotiations between Christian and non-Christian Naga. This religious division is intertwined with that of healing beliefs and practices, both animistic and biomedical. This study focuses on the particular experiences of the Angami Naga, one of the many Naga peoples. Like other Naga, they are citizens of the state of India but extend ethnolinguistically into Tibeto-Burman south-east Asia. This ambiguity and how it affects their Christianity, global involvement, indigenous cultural assertiveness and nationalist struggle is explored. Not simply describing continuity through change, this study reveals the alternating Christian and non-Christian streams of discourse, one masking the other but at different times and in different guises.
Medicine Between Science and Religion
Explorations on Tibetan Grounds
Adams, V., Schrempf, M. & Craig, S. R. (ed)
There is a growing interest in studies that document the relationship between science and medicine - as ideas, practices, technologies and outcomes - across cultural, national, geographic terrain. Tibetan medicine is not only known as a scholarly medical tradition among other Asian medical systems, with many centuries of technological, clinical, and pharmacological innovation; it also survives today as a complex medical resource across many Asian nations - from India and Bhutan to Mongolia, Tibet (TAR) and China, Buryatia - as well as in Western Europe and the Americas. The contributions to this volume explore, in equal measure, the impacts of western science and biomedicine on Tibetan grounds - i.e., among Tibetans across China, the Himalaya and exile communities as well as in relation to globalized Tibetan medicine - and the ways that local practices change how such “science” gets done, and how this continually hybridized medical knowledge is transmitted and put into practice. As such, this volume contributes to explorations into the bi-directional flows of medical knowledge and practice.
Subjects: Medical Anthropology Anthropology of Religion
Mirrors of Passing
Unlocking the Mysteries of Death, Materiality, and Time
Seebach, S. & Willerslev, R. (eds)
Without exception, all people are faced with the inevitability of death, a stark fact that has immeasurably shaped societies and individual consciousness for the whole of human history. Mirrors of Passing offers a powerful window into this oldest of human preoccupations by investigating the interrelationships of death, materiality, and temporality across far-flung times and places. Stretching as far back as Ancient Egypt and Greece and moving through present-day locales as diverse as Western Europe, Central Asia, and the Arctic, each of the richly illustrated essays collected here draw on a range of disciplinary insights to explore some of the most fundamental, universal questions that confront us.
Essays on the Forming of Form
Handelman, D., Shapiro, M. (ed), & Feldman, J. (ed)
Don Handelman’s groundbreaking work in anthropology is showcased in this collection of his most powerful essays, edited by Matan Shapiro and Jackie Feldman. The book looks at the intellectual and spiritual roots of Handelman’s initiation into anthropology; his work on ritual and on “bureaucratic logic”; analyses of cosmology; and innovative essays on Anthropology and Deleuzian thinking. Handelman reconsiders his theory of the forming of form and how this relates to a new theory of the dynamics of time. This will be the definitive collection of articles by one of the most important anthropologists of the late 20th Century.
The Magic of Witchcraft
Neither power nor morality but both. Moral power is what Sukuma farmers in Tanzania in times of crisis attribute to an unknown figure they call their witch. A universal process is involved, as much bodily as social, which obstructs the patient’s recovery. Healers turn the table on the witch through rituals showing that the community and the ancestral spirits side with the victim. In contrast to biomedicine, their magic and divination introduce moral values that assess the state of the system and that remove the obstacles to what is taken as key: self-healing. The implied ‘sensory shifts’ and therapeutic effectiveness have largely eluded the literature on witchcraft. This book shows how to comprehend culture other than through the prism of identity politics. It offers a framework to comprehend the rise of witch killings and human sacrifice, just as ritual initiation disappears.
Subjects: Medical Anthropology Anthropology of Religion
Death Ritual and the Reproduction of Moral Community in Pacific Modernities
Lipset, D. & Silverman, E. K. (eds)
Mortuary Dialogues presents fresh perspectives on death and mourning across the Pacific Islands. Through a set of rich ethnographies, the book examines how funerals and death rituals give rise to discourse and debate about sustaining moral personhood and community amid modernity and its enormous transformations. The book’s key concept, “mortuary dialogue,” describes the different genres of talk and expressive culture through which people struggle to restore individual and collective order in the aftermath of death in the contemporary Pacific.
Multiple Moralities and Religions in Post-Soviet Russia
Zigon, J. (ed)
In the post-Soviet period morality became a debatable concept, open to a multitude of expressions and performances. From Russian Orthodoxy to Islam, from shamanism to Protestantism, religions of various kinds provided some of the first possible alternative moral discourses and practices after the end of the Soviet system. This influence remains strong today. Within the Russian context, religion and morality intersect in such social domains as the relief of social suffering, the interpretation of history, the construction and reconstruction of traditions, individual and social health, and business practices. The influence of religion is also apparent in the way in which the Russian Orthodox Church increasingly acts as the moral voice of the government. The wide-ranging topics in this ethnographically based volume show the broad religious influence on both discursive and everyday moralities. The contributors reveal that although religion is a significant aspect of the various assemblages of morality, much like in other parts of the world, religion in postsocialist Russia cannot be separated from the political or economic or transnational institutional aspects of morality.
Mythology, Spirituality, and History
The Arakmbut are an indigenous people who live in the Madre de Dios region of thesoutheastern Peruvian rain forest. Since their first encounters with missionaries in the 1950s,they have shown resilience and a determination to affirm their identity in the face of many difficulties. During the last fifteen years, Arakmbut survival has been under threat from a goldrush that has attracted hundreds of colonists onto their territories. This trilogy of books traces the ways in which the Arakmbut overcome the dangers that surround them: their mythology and cultural strength; their social flexibility; and their capacity to incorporate non-indigenous concepts and activities into their defence strategies. Each area is punctuated by the constant presence of the invisible spirit, which provides a seamless theme connecting the books to each other.
Following the Arakmbuts' recommendation, the author uses their three greatest myths to introduce social, cultural and historical aspects of their lives. He ends with a discussion of the relationship between myth and history showing how the Arakmbut recreate their myths at the dramatic moments of their history.
The Nature of Sociology
Having taken over the leadership of the French school of sociology after the death of his uncle, Emile Durkheim, in 1917, Mauss, celebrated author of The Gift, re-launched the flagship journal, the Année sociologique. Here are two of Mauss's most significant statements on the social sciences. The first, written with Fauconnet, outlines the methodological orientations of the school. The second examines the internal organization of sociology as a division of intellectual labor. The essays are of interest to anthropologists as well as sociologists for Mauss, like Durkheim, did not distinguish in detail the two disciplines.
The New Age in Glastonbury
The Construction of Religious Movements
Prince, R. & Riches, D.
The New Age movement is a twentieth-century socio-cultural phenomenon in the Western world with Glastonbury as one of its major centers. Through experimenting with a number of ways of analyzing this movement, the authors were able to develop a novel theory of social religious movements of broad applicability. Based around contradictions relating to such central anthropological concepts as communitas, egalitarianism, individualism, holism, and autonomy, it reveals the processes by which, having abandoned a mainstream lifestyle, people come to build up a counter-culture way of life. Drawing on their own work on tribal shamanistic religions, the authors are able to point out interesting similarities between the latter and the Glastonbury New Age movement. Not only that: their model allows them to explain such wide-ranging social and religious movements as the Hutterites, the Kibbutz, and Green communes. In fact, the authors argue, these movements may be regarded as variations of the Glastonbury type.
Of Life and Health
The Language of Art and Religion in an African Medical System
Tengan, A. B.
An anthropological study of the health system of the Dagara people of northern Ghana and southern Burkina Faso, Of Life and Health develops a cultural and epistemological lexicon of Dagara life by examining its religious, ritual, and artistic expressions. Consisting of ethnographic descriptions and analyses of six Dagara cultic institutions, each of which deals with different aspects of sustaining and transmitting life, the volume gives a holistic account of the Dagara knowledge system.
Text and Commentary
Marcel Mauss (1872-1950) never completed his Doctoral thesis on prayer. Yet his scarcely mentioned introduction (Books I and II) of 176 pages and privately printed in 1909, can be seen as some of his most important work. His argument that much of prayer is a social act will be of great interest to anthropologists, sociologists and theologians.
Here, the first English translation to be published, is preceded by a general introduction by W.S.F.Pickering and finally a specific commentary on Mauss's use of ethnographic material.
On the Margins of Religion
Pine, F. & Pina-Cabral, J. de (eds)
Focusing on places, objects, bodies, narratives and ritual spaces where religion may be found or inscribed, the authors reveal the role of religion in contesting rights to places, to knowledge and to property, as well as access to resources. Through analyses of specific historical processes in terms of responses to socio-economic and political change, the chapters consider implicitly or explicitly the problematic relation between science (including social sciences and anthropology in particular) and religion, and how this connects to the new religious globalisation of the twenty-first century. Their ethnographies highlight the embodiment of religion and its location in landscapes, built spaces and religious sites which may be contested, physically or ideologically, or encased in memory and often in silence. Taken together, they show the importance of religion as a resource to the believers: a source of solace, spiritual comfort and self-willed submission.
Order and Disorder
Benda-Beckmann, K. von & Pirie, F. (eds)
Disorder and instability are matters of continuing public concern. Terrorism, as a threat to global order, has been added to preoccupations with political unrest, deviance and crime. Such considerations have prompted the return to the classic anthropological issues of order and disorder. Examining order within the political and legal spheres and in contrasting local settings, the papers in this volume highlight its complex and contested nature. Elaborate displays of order seem necessary to legitimate the institutionalization of violence by military and legal establishments, yet violent behaviour can be incorporated into the social order by the development of boundaries, rituals and established processes of conflict resolution. Order is said to depend upon justice, yet injustice legitimates disruptive protest. Case studies from Siberia, India, Indonesia, Tibet, West Africa, Morocco and the Ottoman Empire show that local responses are often inconsistent in their valorization, acceptance and condemnation of disorder.
Ordinary Lives and Grand Schemes
An Anthropology of Everyday Religion
Schielke, S. & Debevec, L. (eds)
Everyday practice of religion is complex in its nature, ambivalent and at times contradictory. The task of an anthropology of religious practice is therefore precisely to see how people navigate and make sense of that complexity, and what the significance of religious beliefs and practices in a given setting can be. Rather than putting everyday practice and normative doctrine on different analytical planes, the authors argue that the articulation of religious doctrine is also an everyday practice and must be understood as such.
Pathways to Heaven
Contesting Mainline and Fundamentalist Christianity in Papua New Guinea
How does global Christianity relate to processes of globalisation and modernization and what form does it take in different local settings? These questions have lately proved to be of increasing interest to many scholars in the social sciences and humanities. This study examines the tensions, antagonisms and outright confrontations that can occur within local Christian communities upon the arrival of global versions of fundamentalism and it does so through a rich and in-depth ethnographic study of a single case: that of Pairundu, a small and remote Papua New Guinean village whose population accepted Catholicism, after first being contacted in the late 1950s, and subsequently participated in a charismatic movement, before more and more members of the younger generation started to separate themselves from their respective catholic families and to convert to one of the most radical and fastest growing religious groups not only in contemporary Papua New Guinea but world-wide: the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. This case study of local Christianity as a lived religion contributes to an understanding of the social and cultural dynamics that increasingly incite and shape religious conflicts on a global scale.
The Patient Multiple
An Ethnography of Healthcare and Decision-Making in Bhutan
In the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, medical patients engage a variety of healing practices to seek cures for their ailments. Patients use the expanding biomedical network and a growing number of traditional healthcare units, while also seeking alternative practices, such as shamanism and other religious healing, or even more provocative practices. The Patient Multiple delves into this healthcare complexity in the context of patients’ daily lives and decision-making processes, showing how these unique mountain cultures are finding new paths to good health among a changing and multifaceted medical topography.
Patients and Agents
Mental Illness, Modernity and Islam in Sylhet, Bangladesh
Sylhet, the area of Bangladesh most closely associated with overseas migration, has seen an increase in remittances sent home from abroad, introducing new inequalities. Social change has also been mediated by the global forces of Western biomedicine and orthodox Islam. This book examines the effects of these modernizing trends on mental health and on local, traditional healing as the new inequalities have exacerbated existing social tensions and led to increased vulnerability to mental illness. It is the young women of Sylhet who are most affected. The global economy has increased competition for resources and led to marriage being seen as a route to economic advancement. Parents prefer to give their daughters in marriage to families that will widen their social contacts and enhance their economic and social standing. Accordingly, the young wife’s outsider status (and hence vulnerability to mental illness) has increased as it is no longer customary to give daughters in marriage to local kin. Yet, patients and their families do not work out tensions passively. They are active agents in the construction of their own diagnosis. The extent to which patients act or are acted upon is an investigation that runs throughout the book.
Persecution and Resistance of Jehovah's Witnesses During the Nazi-Regime
Hesse, H. (ed)
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Subjects: Genocide History Anthropology of Religion
Narrative and Authorship in Christian Pilgrimage
Coleman, S. & Elsner, J. (eds)
Research on pilgrimage has traditionally fallen across a series of academic disciplines - anthropology, archaeology, art history, geography, history and theology. To date, relatively little work has been devoted to the issue of pilgrimage as writing and specifically as a form of travel-writing. The aim of the interdisciplinary essays gathered here is to examine the relations of Christian pilgrimage to the numerous narratives, which it generates and upon which it depends. Authors reveal not only the tensions between oral and written accounts but also the frequent ambiguities of journeys - the possibilities of shifts between secular and sacred forms and accounts of travel. Above all, the papers reveal the self-generating and multiple-authored characteristics of pilgrimage narrative: stories of past pilgrimage experience generate future stories and even future journeys.
Pilgrimage and Political Economy
Translating the Sacred
Coleman, S. & Eade, J. (eds)
Pilgrimage has always had a tendency to follow—and sometimes create—trade routes. This volume explores how wider factors behind transnational and global mobility have impacted on pilgrimage activity across the world, and examines the ways in which pilgrimage relates to migration, diaspora, and political cooperation or conflict across nation-states. Furthermore, it brings together case studies that explore forms of mobility where pilgrimage is juxtaposed, complements, or is in intimate association with other forms of movement.
The Politics of Cultural Performance
Parkin, D., Caplan, L. & Fisher, H. (eds)
The line between what is regarded by people as "traditional" and "modern" is constantly being altered by new configurations of power. These essays examine the ways in which such changes are both communicated and created through cultural performances in diverse ethnographic settings. Examples are drawn from a wide range of forms and expressions: divinatory sequences, spirit possession rites, state ceremonials, village feasts, pilgrimages, language-use and craft specialisms. It was Abner Cohen, to whom this volume is dedicated, who first suggested that a dialectical relationship existed between power and symbolism. This concept, as developed in his seminal work, has since become a growing area of study as reflected in this important collection. By questioning some of the directions, the authors make a major interdisciplinary contribution to the study of cultural performance as a key factor in power relationships. The principal stage is Africa, but comparative ethnographic data are drawn from Ireland, Italy, South Asia, and the United Kingdom.
The Polynesian Iconoclasm
Religious Revolution and the Seasonality of Power
Within little more than ten years in the early nineteenth century, inhabitants of Tahiti, Hawaii and fifteen other closely related societies destroyed or desecrated all of their temples and most of their god-images. In the aftermath of the explosive event, which Sissons terms the Polynesian Iconoclasm, hundreds of architecturally innovative churches — one the size of two football fields — were constructed. At the same time, Christian leaders introduced oppressive laws and courts, which the youth resisted through seasonal displays of revelry and tattooing. Seeking an answer to why this event occurred in the way that it did, this book introduces and demonstrates an alternative “practice history” that draws on the work of Marshall Sahlins and employs Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, improvisation and practical logic.
Power and Magic in Italy
Based on vivid and colorful case studies about Mafiosi, priests, mothers, and migrants, the author offers new perspectives on the anthropology of religion and magic through categories of landscape, the body, human practice, and material experience. The focus on women as religious practitioners is linked to the idea of religion as a primary mode of production that creates and helps to maintain human reserves in a fast changing, male-dominated world. It is through this mechanism that the Catholic Church, the oldest existing bureaucratic agency of globalization, has maintained its power. Exploring aspects of spirit experiences, trance, the cult of saints, official ecclesiastical cults, and especially witchcraft, this book reveals the explosive, sometimes violent creativity of religion, its relation to magic, and its multi-facetted social value for humans as reflected in the religiously based, pragmatic realism of everyday life in the Mediterranean.
Powers of Good and Evil
Social Transformation and Popular Belief
Clough, P. & Mitchell, J. (eds)
A key theme in the anthropology of beliefs is the relationship between socio-economic change and changes in the belief system. It has been widely argued that rapid economic change, particularly the introduction of capitalism, leads to an increase in beliefs in, and representations of, evil and the devil. These beliefs, it is argued, constitute forms of resistance to, or rejection of, "modernity." This volume builds on these arguments, suggesting that rather than an indigenous resistance to capitalism, such representations signal a profound moral ambivalence towards the socio-economic process inherent in capitalist economy. Using a range of examples, from Surinamese zombies to American horror films, it demonstrates the extent to which evil imagery is linked to a fear of excess, particularly in situations where people find themselves, or perceive themselves, to be peripheral to the centers of political, economic, and cultural power.
Practicing the Faith
The Ritual Life of Pentecostal-Charismatic Christians
Lindhardt, M. (ed)
Over the past decades, Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity has arguably become the fastest growing religious movement in the world. Distinguishing features of this variant of Christianity include formal ritual activities as well as informal, experiential, and ecstatic forms of worship. This book examines Pentecostal-charismatic ritual practice in different parts of the world, highlighting, among other things, the crucial role of ritual in creating religious communities and identities.
A Prophetic Trajectory
Ideologies of Place, Time and Belonging in an Angolan Religious Movement
Blanes, R. L.
Combining ethnographic and historical research conducted in Angola, Portugal, and the United Kingdom, A Prophetic Trajectory tells the story of Simão Toko, the founder and leader of one of the most important contemporary Angolan religious movements. The book explains the historical, ethnic, spiritual, and identity transformations observed within the movement, and debates the politics of remembrance and heritage left behind after Toko’s passing in 1984. Ultimately, it questions the categories of prophetism and charisma, as well as the intersections between mobility, memory, and belonging in the Atlantic Lusophone sphere.
Religion and Nation
Iranian Local and Transnational Networks in Britain
An estimated 75,000 Iranians emigrated to Britain after the 1979 revolution and the establishment of the Islamic Republic. They are politically, religiously, socio-economically and ethnically heterogeneous, and have found themselves in the ongoing process of settlement. The aim of this book is to explore facets of this process by examining the ways in which religious traditions and practices have been maintained, negotiated and rejected by Iranians from Muslim backgrounds and how they have served as identity-building vehicles during the course of migration, in relation to the political, economic, and social situation in Iran and Britain. While the ethnographic focus is on Iranians, this book touches on more general questions associated with the process of migration, transnational societies, Diasporas, and religious as well as ethnic minorities.
Religion and Pride
Hindus in Search of Recognition in La Réunion
Seeking recognition presents an important driving force in the making of religious minorities, as is shown in this study that examines current debates on religion, globalization, diaspora, and secularism through the lens of Hindus living in the French overseas department of La Réunion. Through the examination of religious practices and public performance, the author offers a compelling study of how the Hindus of the island assert pride in their religion as a means of gaining recognition, self-esteem, and social status.
Religion and Science as Forms of Life
Anthropological Insights into Reason and Unreason
Salazar, C. & Bestard, J. (eds)
The relationships between science and religion are about to enter a new phase in our contemporary world, as scientific knowledge has become increasingly relevant in ordinary life, beyond the institutional public spaces where it traditionally developed. The purpose of this volume is to analyze the relationships, possible articulations and contradictions between religion and science as forms of life: ways of engaging human experience that originate in particular social and cultural formations. Contributions use this theoretical and ethnographic research to explore different scientific and religious cultures in the contemporary world.
Religion in English Everyday Life
An Ethnographic Approach
Starting from an ethnographic appraisal of the place of religious practices, and thereby returning to an approach more recently neglected, this book offers a detailed understanding of English everyday life. Three contemporary case studies - the life of a country church, an annual procession by the churches in a Bristol suburb, a range of linked "spiritualist" beliefs - disclose the complex patterns and compulsion of ordinary lives, including both moral and historical dimensions: the distribution of reputation and conflict, and the continuities of place and identity. At the same time, the approach revises previous accounts of English social life by giving a nuanced description of the construction of local lives in interaction with their wider setting. It demonstrates the creation of local particularity under an outside gaze, showing how actors create and cope with the forces of "modernity." In addition to the original ethnographic descriptions, the book also contributes to the history and theory of the study of complex societies.
Religion, Politics, and Globalization
Lindquist, G. & Handelman, D. (eds)
While social scientists, beginning with Weber, envisioned a secularized world, religion today is forthrightly becoming a defining feature of life all around the globe. The complex connections between religion and politics, and the ways in which globalization shapes these processes, are central themes explored in this volume by leading scholars in the field of religion. Does the holism of numerous past and present day cosmologies mean that religions with their holistic orientations are integral to human existence? What happens when political ideologies and projects are framed as transcendental truths and justified by Divine authority? How are individual and collective identities shaped by religious rhetoric, and what are the consequences? Can mass murder, deemed terrorism, be understood as a form of ritual sacrifice, and if so, what are the implications for our sensibilities and practices as scholars and citizens? Using empirical material, from historical analyses of established religions to the everyday strife of marginalized groups such as migrants and dissident movements, this volume deepens the understanding of processes that shape the contemporary world.
The Rite of Urban Passage
The Spatial Ritualization of Iranian Urban Transformation
The Iranian city experienced a major transformation when the Pahlavi Dynasty initiated a project of modernization in the 1920s. The Rite of Urban Passage investigates this process by focusing on the spatial dynamics of Muharram processions, a ritual that commemorates the tragic massacre of Hussein and his companions in 680 CE. In doing so, this volume offers not only an alternative approach to understanding the process of urban transformation, but also a spatial genealogy of Muharram rituals that provides a platform for developing a fresh spatial approach to ritual studies.
Ritual in Its Own Right
Exploring the Dynamics of Transformation
Handelman, D. & Lindquist, G. (eds)
Historically, canonic studies of ritual have discussed and explained ritual organization, action, and transformation primarily as representations of broader cultural and social orders. In the present, as in the past, less attention is given to the power of ritual to organize and effect transformation through its own dynamics. Breaking with convention, the contributors to this volume were asked to discuss ritual first and foremost in relation to itself, in its own right, and only then in relation to its socio-cultural context. The results attest to the variable capacities of rites to effect transformation through themselves, and to the study of phenomena in their own right as a fertile approach to comprehending ritual dynamics.
Luangan Healing Performances through Practice
Belian is an exceptionally lively tradition of shamanistic curing rituals performed by the Luangans, a politically marginalized population of Indonesian Borneo. This volume explores the significance of these rituals in practice and asks what belian rituals do – socially, politically, and existentially – for particular people in particular circumstances. Departing from the conception that rituals exist as ethereal, liminal or insulated traditional domains, this volume demonstrates the importance of understanding rituals as emergent within their specific historical and social settings. It offers an analysis of a number of concrete ritual performances, exemplifying a diversity of ritual genres, stylistic modalities and sensual ambiences, from low-key, habitual affairs to drawn-out, crowd-seizing community rituals and innovative, montage-like cultural experiments.
Subjects: Medical Anthropology Anthropology of Religion
Sacred Places, Emerging Spaces
Religious Pluralism in the Post-Soviet Caucasus
Darieva, T., Mühlfried, F., & Tuite, K. (eds)
Though long-associated with violence, the Caucasus is a region rich with religious conviviality. Based on fresh ethnographies in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the Russian Federation, Sacred Places, Emerging Spaces discusses vanishing and emerging sacred places in the multi-ethnic and multi-religious post-Soviet Caucasus. In exploring the effects of de-secularization, growing institutional control over hybrid sacred sites, and attempts to review social boundaries between the religious and the secular, these essays give way to an emergent Caucasus viewed from the ground up: dynamic, continually remaking itself, within shifting and indefinite frontiers.
Science, Magic and Religion
The Ritual Processes of Museum Magic
Bouquet, M. & Porto, N. (eds)
For some time now, museums have been recognized as important institutions of western cultural and social life. The idea of the museum as a ritual site is fairly new and has been applied to the art museums in Europe and the United States so far. This volume expands it by exploring a range of contemporary museums in Europe and Africa. The case studies examine the different ways in which various actors involved in cultural production dramatize and ritualize such sites. It turns out that not only museum specialists, but visitors themselves are engaged in complex performances and experiences that make use of museums in often unexpected ways.
Seekers and Things
Spiritual Movements and Aesthetic Difference in Kinshasa
Focusing on the intricate presence of a Japanese new religion (Sekai Kyûseikyô) in the densely populated and primarily Christian environment of Kinshasa (DR Congo), this ethnographic study offers a practitioner-orientated perspective to create a localized picture of religious globalization. Guided by an aesthetic approach to religion, the study moves beyond a focus limited to text and offers insights into the role of religious objects, spiritual technologies and aesthetic repertoires in the production and politics of difference. The boundaries between non-Christian religious minorities and the largely Christian public sphere involve fears and suspicion of "magic" and "occult sciences".
Sex and the Empire That Is No More
Gender and the Politics of Metaphor in Oyo Yoruba Religion
Matory, J. L.
J. Lorand Matory researches the trans-Atlantic comings and goings of Yoruba religion, as well as ethnic diversity in Black North America. With the support of the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Spencer Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education's Fulbright-Hays Fellowship, he has conducted extensive field research in Brazil, Nigeria, and the United States. Dr. Matory is also the author of Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé (Princeton University Press). He is currently researching a book on the history and experience of Nigerians, Trinidadians, Ethiopians, black Indians, Louisiana Creoles and other ethnic groups that make up black North American society. It focuses on the creative coexistence of these groups at the United States' leading "historically Black university"—Howard University
Traditional and Contemporary Approaches to the Mastery of Spirits and Healing
Shamanism has always been of great interest to anthropologists. More recently it has been "discovered" by westerners, especially New Age followers. This book breaks new ground byexamining pristine shamanism in Greenland, among people contacted late by Western missionaries and settlers. On the basis of material only available in Danish, and presented herein English for the first time, the author questions Mircea Eliade's well-known definition of the shaman as the master of ecstasy and suggests that his role has to be seen as that of a master of spirits.
The ambivalent nature of the shaman and the spirit world in the tough Arctic environment is then contrasted with the more benign attitude to shamanism in the New Age movement. After presenting descriptions of their organizations and accounts by participants, the author critically analyses the role of neo-shamanic courses and concludes that it is doubtful to consider what isoffered as shamanism.
Sharing the Sacra
The Politics and Pragmatics of Intercommunal Relations around Holy Places
Bowman, G. (ed)
“Shared” sites, where members of distinct, or factionally opposed, religious communities interact—or fail to interact—is the focus of this volume. Chapters based on fieldwork from such diverse sites as India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China, Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia, and Vietnam demonstrate how sharing and tolerance are both more complex and multifaceted than they are often recognized to be. By including both historical processes (the development of Chinese funerals in late imperial Beijing or the refashioning of memorial commemoration in the wake of the Vietnam war) and particular events (the visit of Pope John Paul II to shared shrines in Sri Lanka or the Al-Qaeda bombing of an ancient Jewish synagogue on the Island of Djerba in Tunisia), the volume demonstrates the importance of understanding the wider contexts within which social interactions take place and shows that tolerance and intercommunalism are simultaneously possible and perpetually under threat.
Social Security in Religious Networks
Anthropological Perspectives on New Risks and Ambivalences
Leutloff-Grandits, C., Peleikis, A. & Thelen, T. (eds)
During the last decades, the world has been facing tremendous political transformations and new risks: epidemics such as HIV/Aids have had destabilizing effect on the caretaking role of kin; in post-socialist countries political reforms have made unemployment a new source of insecurity. Furthermore, the state’s withdrawal from providing social security is taking place throughout the world. One response to these developments has been increased migration, which poses further challenges to kinship-based social support systems. This innovative volume focuses on the ambiguous role of religious networks in social security and traces the interrelatedness of religious networks and state and family support systems. Particularly timely, it describes these challenges as well as social security arrangements in the context of globalization and migration. The wide range of case studies from various parts of the world that examine various religious groups offers an important comparative contribution to the understanding of religious networks as providers of social security.
Spirits and Letters
Reading, Writing and Charisma in African Christianity
Kirsch, T. G.
Studies of religion have a tendency to conceptualise ‘the Spirit’ and ‘the Letter’ as mutually exclusive and intrinsically antagonistic. However, the history of religions abounds in cases where charismatic leaders deliberately refer to and make use of writings. This book challenges prevailing scholarly notions of the relationship between ‘charisma’ and ‘institution’ by analysing reading and writing practices in contemporary Christianity. Taking up the continuing anthropological interest in Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity, and representing the first book-length treatment of literacy practices among African Christians, this volume explores how church leaders in Zambia refer to the Bible and other religious literature, and how they organise a church bureaucracy in the Pentecostal-charismatic mode. Thus, by examining social processes and conflicts that revolve around the conjunction of Pentecostal-charismatic and literacy practices in Africa, Spirits and Letters reconsiders influential conceptual dichotomies in the social sciences and the humanities and is therefore of interest not only to anthropologists but also to scholars working in the fields of African studies, religious studies, and the sociology of religion.
Cosmic Visions in Science, Religion, and Folklore
Harrison, A. A.
We live in an era of exploding scientific knowledge about the universe, and our place and future within it. Much of this new knowledge conflicts with earlier wisdom, and some has frightening implications. Cosmic evolution, space exploration, the search for extraterrestrial life, and concerns about humanity’s future prompt us to seek new answers to old existential questions. Where did we come from? Why are we here? Are we alone? What will become of us? In our search for answers, we turn to science, religion, myth, and varying combinations thereof. Exploring an ambiguous region between recognized findings and unfettered imagination, Starstruck explores the multifaceted, far-reaching, and often contentious attempts of people with contrasting worldviews to develop convincing and satisfying interpretations of rapidly accumulating discoveries in physics, astronomy, and biology.
Straying from the Straight Path
How Senses of Failure Invigorate Lived Religion
Beekers, D. & Kloos, D. (eds)
If piety, faith, and conviction constitute one side of the religious coin, then imperfection, uncertainty, and ambivalence constitute the other. Yet, scholars tend to separate these two domains and place experiences of inadequacy in everyday religious life – such as a wavering commitment, religious negligence or weakness in faith – outside the domain of religion ‘proper.’
Straying from the Straight Path breaks with this tendency by examining how self-perceived failure is, in many cases, part and parcel of religious practice and experience. Responding to the need for comparative approaches in the face of the largely separated fields of the anthropology of Islam and Christianity, this volume gives full attention to moral failure as a constitutive and potentially energizing force in the religious lives of both Muslims and Christians in different parts of the world.
Sustaining Indigenous Songs
Contemporary Warlpiri Ceremonial Life in Central Australia
As an ethnography of Central Australian singing traditions and ceremonial contexts, this book asks questions about the vitality of the cultural knowledge and practices highly valued by Warlpiri people and fundamental to their cultural heritage. Set against a discussion of the contemporary vitality of Aboriginal musical traditions in Australia and embedded in the historical background of this region, the book lays out the features of Warlpiri songs and ceremonies, and centers on a focal case study of the Warlpiri Kurdiji ceremony to illustrate the modes in which core cultural themes are being passed on through song to future generations.
Taboo, Truth and Religion
Adler, J. & Fardon, R. (eds) (Steiner, F.)
Franz Steiner's study of Taboo is internationally recognized as a classic in its field. In a newly researched introductory chapter, based on a thorough study of Steiner's unpublished papers, this edition for the first time places the book in its context and offers a new reading of the text. More than just a critique of existing taboo theories, as it has often been seen, this study offers a profound analysis of danger behavior and pollution in "non-civilized" societies. This provided an important starting-point for Mary Douglas' Purity and Danger. A key aspect of Steiner's achievement lies in his attempt to reconcile detailed, faithful ethnographic analysis with anthropological comparison. His analysis of taboo thus provides a case study with wide-ranging ramifications.
This new edition makes a classic text available once again to students and general readers. A major new introduction based on archival research offers, for the first time, a biography and critical study of Franz Steiner; it not only places him in the context of British and European thought but also shows his importance for contemporary debates, among them deconstruction and Orientalism.
Tides of Empire
Religion, Development, and Environment in Cambodia
At the forested edge of Cambodia’s development frontier, the infrastructures of global development engulf the land and existing social practices like an incoming tide. Cambodia’s distinctive history of imperial surge and rupture makes it easier to see the remains of earlier tides, which are embedded in the physical landscape, and also floating about in the solidifying boundaries of religious, economic, and political classifications. Using stories from the hybrid population of settler-farmers, loggers, and soldiers, all cutting new social realities from the water and the land, this book illuminates the contradictions and continuities in what the author suggests is the final tide of empire.
Secular Activism and the Politics of Difference in South India
Exploring lived atheism in the South Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, this book offers a unique insight into India’s rapidly transforming multi-religious society. It explores the social, cultural, and aesthetic challenges faced by a movement of secular activists in their endeavors to establish atheism as a practical and comprehensive way of life. On the basis of original ethnographic material and engaged conceptual analysis, Total Atheism develops an alternative to Eurocentric accounts of secularity and critically revisits central themes of South Asian scholarship from the hitherto marginalized vantage point of radically secular and explicitly irreligious atheists in India.
Investigating Death and Liminality
Berger, P. & Kroesen, J. (eds)
Periods of transition are often symbolically associated with death, making the latter the paradigm of liminality. Yet, many volumes on death in the social sciences and humanities do not specifically address liminality. This book investigates these “ultimate ambiguities,” assuming they can pose a threat to social relationships because of the disintegrating forces of death, but they are also crucial periods of creativity, change, and emergent aspects of social and religious life. Contributors explore death and liminality from an interdisciplinary perspective and present a global range of historical and contemporary case studies outlining emotional, cognitive, artistic, social, and political implications.
Under the Sign of the Cross
The People’s Salvation Cathedral and the Church-Building Industry in Postsocialist Romania
Based on extensive ethnographic research, this book delves into the thriving industry of religious infrastructure in Romania, where 4,000 Orthodox churches and cathedrals have been built in three decades. Following the construction of the world’s highest Orthodox cathedral in Bucharest, the book brings together sociological and anthropological scholarship on eastern Christianity, secularization, urban change and nationalism. Reading postsocialism through the prism of religious change, the author argues that the emergence of political, entrepreneurial and intellectual figures after 1990 has happened ‘under the sign of the cross’.
Waiting for Elijah
Time and Encounter in a Bosnian Landscape
Waiting for Elijah is an intimate portrait of time-reckoning, syncretism, and proximity in one of the world’s most polarized landscapes, the Bosnian Field of Gacko. Centered on the shared harvest feast of Elijah’s Day, the once eagerly awaited pinnacle of the annual cycle, the book shows how the fractured postwar landscape beckoned the return of communal life that entails such waiting. This seemingly paradoxical situation—waiting to wait—becomes a starting point for a broader discussion on the complexity of time set between cosmology, nationalism, and embodied memories of proximity.
Religion, Sorcery, and Performance
Farrer, D. S. (ed)
This compelling volume explores how war magic and warrior religion unleash the power of the gods, demons, ghosts, and the dead. Documenting war magic and warrior religion as they are performed in diverse cultures and across historical time periods, this volume foregrounds embodiment, practice, and performance in anthropological approaches to magic, sorcery, shamanism, and religion. The authors go beyond what magic ‘represents’ to consider what magic does. From Chinese exorcists, Javanese spirit siblings, and black magic in Sumatra to Tamil Tiger suicide bombers, Chamorro spiritual re-enchantment, tantric Buddhist war magic, and Yanomami dark shamans, religion and magic are re-evaluated not just from the practitioner’s perspective but through the victim’s lived experience. These original investigations reveal a nuanced approach to understanding social action, innovation, and the revitalization of tradition in colonial and post-colonial societies undergoing rapid social transformation.
When God Comes to Town
Religious Traditions in Urban Contexts
Pinxten, R. & Dikomitis, L. (eds)
Around 1800 roughly three per cent of the human population lived in urban areas; by 2030 this number is expected to have gone up to some seventy per cent. This poses problems for traditional religions that are all rooted in rural, small-scale societies. The authors in this volume question what the possible appeal of these old religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, or Islam could be in the new urban environment and, conversely, what impact global urbanization will have on learning and on the performance and nature of ritual. Anthropologists, historians and political scientists have come together in this volume to analyse attempts made by churches and informal groups to adapt to these changes and, at the same time, to explore new ways to study religions in a largely urbanized environment.
Where Humans and Spirits Meet
The Politics of Rituals and Identified Spirits in Zanzibar
Zanzibar, an island off the East African coast, with its Muslim and Swahili population, offers rich material for this study of identity, religion, and multiculturalism. This book focuses on the phenomenon of spirit possession in Zanzibar Town and the relationships created between humans and spirits; it provides a way to apprehend how society is constituted and conceived and, thus, discusses Zanzibari understandings of what it means to be human.
Witchcraft, Witches, and Violence in Ghana
Witchcraft violence is a feature of many contemporary African societies. In Ghana, belief in witchcraft and the malignant activities of putative witches is prevalent. Purported witches are blamed for all manner of adversities including inexplicable illnesses and untimely deaths. As in other historical periods and other societies, in contemporary Ghana, alleged witches are typically female, elderly, poor, and marginalized. Childhood socialization in homes and schools, exposure to mass media, and other institutional mechanisms ensure that witchcraft beliefs are transmitted across generations and entrenched over time. This book provides a detailed account of Ghanaian witchcraft beliefs and practices and their role in fueling violent attacks on alleged witches by aggrieved individuals and vigilante groups.
Witches and Demons
A Comparative Perspective on Witchcraft and Satanism
La Fontaine, J.
Devil worship, black magic, and witchcraft have long captivated anthropologists as well as the general public. In this volume, Jean La Fontaine explores the intersection of expert and lay understandings of evil and the cultural forms that evil assumes. The chapters touch on public scares about devil-worship, misconceptions about human sacrifice and the use of body parts in healing practices, and mistaken accusations of children practicing witchcraft. Together, these cases demonstrate that comparison is a powerful method of cultural understanding, but warns of the dangers and mistaken conclusions that untrained ideas about other ways of life can lead to.
Women as Sacred Custodians of the Earth?
Women, Spirituality and the Environment
Low, A. & Tremayne, S. (eds)
Literature on women, development and environment is abundant. The relationship between women and ecology has been analyzed by various disciplines, by specialists from the North as well as the South. This book offers a new perspective, specifically to challenge the assumption that women have a special affinity with the Earth and therefore a historic mission for the care of the environment. The book explores spiritual, religious and philosophical beliefs concerning women and ecology, and whether women are truly "sacred custodians" of the Earth. This concept has evolved from ideas developed by eco-feminists. Whether and how different belief systems can be put to use to create an awareness to protect, preserve and improve ecological conditions is discussed. The collection of papers demonstrates the complexity of the issues and the variations and vulnerability of the assumed relationship between women and the environment in different cultural and political contexts. The book challenges policy solutions which are devised to be on a global scale and to create unrealistic global aspirations, and the value of targeting women in a particular attempt to achieve environmentally sustainable development.
Working with Spirit
Experiencing Izangoma Healing in Contemporary South Africa
Wreford, J. T.
In the current model of health dispensation in South Africa there are two major paradigms, the spirit-inspired tradition of izangoma sinyanga and biomedicine. These operate at best in parallel, but more often than not are at odds with one another. This book, based on the author’s personal experience as a practitioner of traditional African medicine, considers the effects of the absence of spirit in biomedicine on collaborative relationships. Given the unprecedented challenge of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country, the author suggests that more cooperation is vital. Taking a critical look at the role of anthropology in this endeavor, she proposes the development of a “language of spirit” by means of which the spirit-inspired aetiology of izangoma sinyanga may be made comprehensible to academic scientists and applicable to medical interventions. The author discusses white izangoma in the context of current debates on healing and hybridity and insists that there exists a powerful role for izangoma in the realm of societal healing. Above all, the book constitutes a start in what the author hopes will develop into an ongoing intellectual conversation between traditional African healing, academe, and biomedicine in South Africa.
Subjects: Medical Anthropology Anthropology of Religion