We are all connected to multiple Elsewheres: the place(s) where we grew up, the place we would rather be, the places that haunt us, the places where the dead dwell, the sites of empire. Geographical Elsewheres can be a source of fear. In the wake of Europe's so-called migrant crisis and border-crossing pandemic viruses, a moral and racist panic feeds off the supposed collapse of those ‘other places’ into ‘our society’. But other places can also be sites of fascination and longing. Think of the long history of travel accounts, or the long-standing desire to reach beyond the planetary horizon. The dream of a mission to Mars. Anything but the depressing here and now!
The Elsewhere beyond Religious Concerns
Annalisa Butticci and Amira Mittermaier
Julián Antonio Moraga Riquelme, Leslie E. Sponsel, Katrien Pype, Diana Riboli, Ellen Lewin, Marina Pignatelli, Katherine Swancutt, Alejandra Carreño Calderón, Anastasios Panagiotopoulos, Sergio González Varela, Eugenia Roussou, Juan Javier Rivera Andía, Miho Ishii, Markus Balkenhol, and Marcelo González Gálvez
Andía, Juan Javier Rivera, ed., Non-Humans in Amerindian South America: Ethnographies of Indigenous Cosmologies, Rituals and Songs, 396 pp., illustrations, bibliography, index. New York: Berghahn Books, 2018. Hardback, $135.00. ISBN 9781789200973.
Cassaniti, J. L., Remembering the Present: Mindfulness in Buddhist Asia, 318 pp., glossary, references, index. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2018. Paperback, $27.95. ISBN 9781501709173.
Casselberry, Judith, and Elizabeth A. PRITCHARD, eds., Spirit on the Move: Black Women and Pentecostalism in Africa and the Diaspora, 248 pp. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019. Paperback, $25.95. ISBN 9781478000327.
Elison, William, The Neighborhood of Gods: The Sacred and the Visible at the Margins of Mumbai, 336 pp., illustrations, notes, references, index. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018. Paperback, $35.00. ISBN 9780226494906.
Hackman, Melissa, Desire Work: Ex-Gay and Pentecostal Masculinity in South Africa, 216 pp., illustrations, notes, references, index. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018. Paperback, $24.95. ISBN 9781478000822.
Leite, Naomi, Unorthodox Kin: Portuguese Marranos and the Global Search for Belonging, 344 pp., notes, references, index. Oakland: University of California Press, 2017. $29.95. ISBN 9780520285057.
Li, Geng, Fate Calculation Experts: Diviners Seeking Legitimation in Contemporary China, 158 pp., references, index. New York: Berghahn Books, 2019. Hardback, $120.00. ISBN 9781785339943.
Lynch, Rebbeca, The Devil Is Disorder: Bodies, Spirits and Misfortune in a Trinidadian Village, 282 pp., illustrations, bibliography, index. New York: Berghahn Books, 2020. Hardback, $120.00. ISBN 9781789204872
Matory, J. Lorand, The Fetish Reisited: Marx, Freud, and the Gods Black People Make, 392 pp., illustrations, bibliographical references, index. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018. Paperback, $29.95. ISBN 9781478001058.
Pansters, Wil G., ed., La Santa Muerte in Mexico: History, Devotion, and Society, 230 pp., illustrations, bibliography, index. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2019. Hardback, $65.00. ISBN 9780826360816.
Pierini, Emily, Jaguars of the Dawn: Spirit Mediumship in the Brazilian Vale do Amanhecer, 290 pp., illustrations, bibliography, index. New York: Berghahn Books, 2020. Hardback, $135.00. ISBN 9781789205657.
Pitarch, Pedro, and José Antonio KELLY, eds., The Culture of Invention in the Americas: Anthropological Experiments with Roy Wagner, 288 pp. Canon Pyon: Sean Kingston Publishing, 2019. Hardback, $90.00. ISBN 9781912385027.
Rambelli, Fabio, ed., Spirits and Animism in Contemporary Japan: The Invisible Empire, 240 pp., illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019. Hardback, $153.00. ISBN 9781350097094.
Richman, Karen E., Migration and Vodou, 384 pp., illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2018. Paperback, $28.95. ISBN 9780813064864.
Vitebsky, Piers, Living without the Dead: Loss and Redemption in a Jungle Cosmos, 380 pp., illustrations, glossary, references, index. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. Paperback, $25.00. ISBN 9780226475622.
Ryan Goeckner, Sean M. Daley, Jordyn Gunville, and Christine M. Daley
The No Dakota Access Pipeline resistance movement provides a poignant example of the way in which cultural, spiritual, and oral traditions remain authoritative in the lives of American Indian peoples, specifically the Lakota people. Confronted with restrictions of their religious freedoms and of access to clean drinking water due to construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), members of Lakota communities engaged with traditions specific to their communities to inform and structure the No DAPL resistance movement. A series of interviews conducted on the Cheyenne River Sioux Nation with tribal members reveal that Lakota spiritual traditions have been integral to every aspect of the movement, including the motivations for, organization of, and understanding of the future of the movement.
Rematerializing Martyrs and the Missing Soldiers of the Iran-Iraq War
Casting the fallen soldiers of the Iran-Iraq War (1980–1988) as ‘martyrs’ plays a crucial role in the legitimation discourse of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The government has succeeded in integrating many ‘martyr families’ into a state-revering political cult. This ethnographic study draws on theories of affect and atmosphere to investigate how practices around saintly dreams and their materialization in photographs and gravestones of martyrs have challenged the state narratives and discourses. I approach the veneration of martyrs through both affective and narrative sources and explore gravestones as new saintly localities. These localities are spaces of divinely intermediation with intimate connection to the transcendental realm. The multifaceted atmosphere of these sites offers nonconformist and heterogeneous entanglements in which dream-images of martyrs allow for the momentary subversion of the state's political cult.
Protestant Christians’ Relation with God and Elsewheres
How do Protestants engage with Elsewheres, such as God and other parts of the world? While anthropologists of Christianity have focused on the problems of presence and ‘mediating’ God, this article considers instead the concept of ‘responding’ to God/Elsewheres. In examining Lutheran women in early-twentieth-century Norway who held monthly mission meetings, I begin with their decision to remove crafts from their meetings, which created a different blend of sound and silence. I argue that, in their view, quiet listening was the most proper response to calls from Elsewhere and thus allowed them to have the most far-reaching effects. In other words, their right affect would affect Elsewheres. We gain a fuller anthropological description of this complex engagement with God/Elsewheres if we include their understanding of the responsibility to respond.
Shi‘i Ritual Lamentation and the Pious Publics of Lebanon
Fouad Gehad Marei
Drawing on a study of Shi‘i ritual lamentation in Lebanon, this article examines how religious actors and pious publics employ literary, recitational, theatrical, and socio-technological methods to cultivate imaginal engagements with the other-worldly. These methods are analyzed, demonstrating how they locate pious Shi‘is in religious meta-narratives that transcend the linearity of time, taking place simultaneously in the Elsewhere and in the here-and-now. I argue that this produces transposable and lasting dispositions that constitute the Shi‘i self, immerses subjects in this-worldly-oriented modes of religiosity, and bestows upon Shi‘i politics and the imagined community a profound emotional legitimacy. I posit that cultivated engagements with the Elsewhere are constitutive experiences in modes of religiosity that emphasize a symbiosis between human action and metaphysical intervention, thus complicating the question of agency and intentional action.
The Personal and the Political
Simon Coleman and Sondra L. Hausner
The central task of our journal is to present outstanding work on religion. Through our focus on individual scholars in the Portrait section, we are also able to consider how such work is produced, and our hope is to reveal the intellectual, institutional, political, and personal factors behind research that has helped us to revive and reconstruct our field. The subject of this year's Portrait, Talal Asad, has famously addressed questions about the category of religion in unusually productive and provocative ways. Published here for the first time, Asad's autobiographical observations take the reader through some of the key relationships and events of his life, from a remarkable childhood during which he witnessed the violence of Partition first-hand, to what happened in 1950 when he arrived in London from Pakistan and began to discern the problems behind “the local version of modern civilization into which [he] was being unevenly assimilated,” to the process of becoming an anthropologist and an ethnographer.
Elsewhere Affects and the Politics of Engagement across Religious Life-Worlds
Omar Kasmani, Nasima Selim, Hansjörg Dilger, and Dominik Mattes
Imagine a divided mountain-scape. A line of ceasefire. Fog. Imagine coming to a clearing. In a mist-covered, militarized order of here and t/here, affection makes way where vision or bodies cannot. Mothers call out to daughters; sons identify their mothers’ voices in two-way traffics of sound. So long as the vocal exchange lasts, somewhere along the disputed territory of the Golan Heights, an Elsewhere opens.
The Affective Pedagogy of Post-Secular Sufi Healing in Germany
How is access to the Elsewhere facilitated through affective pedagogy in a contemporary Sufi setting in Germany? This article draws analytical lessons from Inayati healing seminars that took place in the summer of 2013. Participants were instructed to feel the Elsewhere of ‘inner space’ in the material/corporeal realities by attuning to breath, sonic resonance, collective movement, and attentive listening. The affective pedagogy of the teacher extended the spatial-temporal coordinates of the Elsewhere (as framed by Mittermaier) to include ‘fleeting affects’ among its unknown elements. These pedagogic tactics entangled religious and secular life-worlds with aesthetic and therapeutic traditions. Learning to feel the unknown affects emanating from the Elsewhere in this setting aimed to provide existential resources to cope with the everyday struggles of post-secular life.
Negotiating Representations of Neo-Pentecostal Aesthetic Practice in Berlin
Drawing on ethnographic research in a Nigerian-based Pentecostal church in Berlin, this article explores the discussions that emerged when my scholarly representations of the congregants’ aesthetic engagements with the Elsewhere diverged from the church leadership's expectations. More specifically, it interrogates my representational practice in relation to the stakes of the diasporic congregation, which is operating at the political margin of Berlin's widely diverse religious landscape. In exploring the collision of my analytical focus on the affect-charged elements of the believers’ routines of connecting to the Elsewhere with the church's emphasis on affective discipline and moderation, the article demonstrates how aesthetic practices that engage with the Elsewhere not only have a religious but inevitably also a political bearing.