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Introduction

Narratives, Ontologies, Entanglements, and Iconoclasms

Sondra L. Hausner, Simon Coleman, and Ruy Llera Blanes

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Jeanne Favret-Saada’s Minimal Ontology

Belief and Disbelief of Mystical Forces, Perilous Conditions, and the Opacity of Being

Theodoros Kyriakides

ABSTRACT

This article explores mystical belief and disbelief in Jeanne Favret-Saada’s ethnography of Bocage witchcraft in relation to the ontological turn in anthropology. The ethnographic archive provides numerous examples in which natives display seemingly contradictory practices of belief and disbelief when it comes to mystical forces. A common way by which anthropologists deal with such contradictions is to attempt to explicate their social function and cultural significance. In doing so, they perceive belief and disbelief to be cognitive states of clarity. Favret-Saada differs in her approach since she apprehends mystical belief and disbelief to be ambivalent and connected and, as I argue, portrays it as being caught in a perilous arrangement of death. In order to convey these points, I compare her ethnographic work to that of E. E. Evans-Pritchard and Rane Willerslev. The article goes on to analyze Favret-Saada’s minimal ontology of the opaque subject and how it can inform ontological anthropology.

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Pentecostalism and Egalitarianism in Melanesia

A Reconsideration of the Pentecostal Gender Paradox

Annelin Eriksen

ABSTRACT

In this article I discuss ‘the Pentecostal gender paradox’, famously coined by Bernice Martin. I do so by comparing Melanesian and Pentecostal forms of egalitarianism. My argument centers on the contention that in order for this paradox to emerge, specific concepts of equality and gender have to be kept fixed across contexts where they may not necessarily be stable. Pentecostalism has a specific effect on the role of women in the church, such as giving them access to the spirit, while also impacting on the notion of equality and ideas about the nature of gender. I conclude that in Pentecostalism gender is seen as an individual quality and that gender relations are viewed as power relations.

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Portrait

Ann Grodzins Gold

Ann Grodzins Gold, Bhrigupati Singh, Farhana Ibrahim, Edward Simpson, and Kirin Narayan

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Finbarr Barry Flood and Jaś Elsner

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Religion through the Looking Glass

Fieldwork, Biography, and Authorship in Southwest China and Beyond

Katherine Swancutt

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This article is an exploration into how a distinct fascination with the study of religion traverses the biographies of researchers who, through fieldwork, episodically enter into the life-worlds of the peoples they study. In it, I offer up ethnographic and auto-ethnographic reflections on the experiential crossroads and personal biographies that are perhaps as constitutive of religion as they are of the persons who study it. Through a discussion of interconnected events that arose during and outside of my anthropological fieldwork among the Nuosu, a Tibeto-Burman group of Southwest China, I highlight how Nuosu claims to authoring my biography have brought their animistic religion and culture, as well as its international import, further into focus for myself, local scholars, and rural Nuosu persons. My argument pivots around the idea that fieldwork-based researchers and their interlocutors often appropriate each other’s biographies in rather cosmic ways, thus revealing the historically, socially, and personally contingent qualities that are involved in studies of religion.

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Adopting a Resistance Lens

An Exploration of Power and Legitimacy in Transitional Justice

Julie Bernath and Sandra Rubli

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Drawing from the critical scholarship on transitional justice and from studies of resistance, this article brings together different observations of resistance, including different sets of actors, forms and motives of resistance, and analyzes their implications for power and legitimacy in contexts of transition. The article argues that the analytical value of resistance lies in the original vantage point it provides for an engagement with questions of power and legitimacy that inform transitional justice processes, but that are often difficult to identify on an empirical level. In doing so, it proposes a “resistance lens,” that is, an explicit focus on resistance that is based on a relational understanding to resistance, in order to move beyond simplistic conceptions of resistance in transitional justice scholarship that mainly approach resistance as resulting from a lack of political will of the powerful elite to implement supposedly universal transitional justice models.

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Michael D. Jackson

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Analyzing Resistance to Transitional Justice

What Can We Learn from Hybridity?

Briony Jones

ABSTRACT

A focus on understanding and managing the reactions of affected populations has led to hybridity’s being an important part of the discussions about, and applications of, transitional justice. However, despite the presence of “resistance” as a component in theories of hybrid peace, there is limited in-depth theoretical or empirical work on resistance to transitional justice. The content of this article addresses this gap in two main ways. First, it asks what we can learn from theories of hybrid peace about resistance to transitional justice. Second, it proposes a particular approach to resistance that would allow for a more dynamic and ultimately more useful understanding of resistance to transitional justice. The argument presented here states not only that we must seek to understand the nature of resistance as a part of hybridity, but we must do so by analyzing the relational process through which acts come to be defined as resistance.