Understanding of Buddhism as a System Anthropologists do not stop at criticizing stereotypes, idées reçues , and common sense. They also seek to complexify notions of history, lay-monastic relations, ritual, spirit possession, and so forth. Sharing as they do
So What Is the Anthropology of Buddhism About?
David N. Gellner
A Practical Guide
This article discusses structural, logistical, and administrative issues associated with the use of participant observation assignments in teaching the anthropology of religion. Fieldwork presents extraordinary opportunities for teaching students about the nature of cultural difference, but it also poses pedagogical challenges that require careful planning and supervision. The article reviews problems including the scope and nature of the observation, student preparation and guidance, connecting with fieldsites, presentation formats, issues of ethics and confidentiality, and university administrative considerations.
A Durkheimian Perspective
In this article, I use a reading of The Elementary Forms of Religious Life to show the relevance of the sociological point of view developed by Durkheim in the analysis and understanding of issues related to the religious conflicts that affect contemporary societies. In particular, I focus on the definition of the critical social function of religion, based on a certain conception of the necessities of action in society and on a gradual transformation of the idea of salvation into a secular context.
An Essay in Anthropological Symmetrization
Starting with the axiom that, for anthropology, the only relevant epistemologies and ontologies are those offered by the peoples we work with, this article offers a sketch of the current debate around the once famous ideas of 'fetish' and 'fetishism'. Focusing on the way that this debate has been extended in studies of Afro-Brazilian religions, the argument employs fieldwork and bibliographic data from one of these religions, candomblé, in order to present a native theory of the creative process underlying what has been baptized with the strange names 'fetish' and 'fetishism'. In short, this native theory holds that the creative process consists more in the actualization of already existing virtualities contained in beings and objects in the world than in the model of ex nihilo production, which is characteristic of our dominant Judeo-Christian and capitalist cosmologies.
Alexander B. Djumaev
The author considers Bukharian musical traditions as multi-cultural phenomena which demonstrate different types of syntheses - pre-Islamic and Islamic elements, inter-confessional cooperation and mutual influences of ethnic groups and peoples living in the city. Various factors, such as climatic conditions, traditional architecture and the inclination of its citizens towards musical entertainment, have influenced the development of traditional music in Bukhara. The main genres of musical art are considered in the framework of traditions of urban life. The author sees this trait of Bukharian culture and mentality as reflecting a duality: religiousness but also an intense love of secular pleasures in which music will always play an important role.
Remembrance and Ritual Commemoration
This essay focuses on David Garrick's Shakespeare Jubilee held in 1769 and the Royal Gala of 1830, comparing the two Stratford-based events in function, festivity, and form. Both occasions furthered Shakespeare's status as the national Bard and both included processions and grand balls. But there were striking differences in format. Some of the divergences include issues of class, while others echoed Shakespearean debates, such as the tension between page and stage Shakespeare. By looking at the commemorations side-by-side, we will be able to use the two gatherings as a microcosm to help us chart the various changes in the cultural and theatrical climate in London and Stratford vis-à-vis Shakespeare during the half-century that separated the festivities.
Animal Representations and Urban (Dis)orders during the ‘Feast of the Sacrifice’ in Istanbul and Khartoum
Alice Franck, Jean Gardin, and Olivier Givre
cultural and religious contexts. A kind of universal ritual item for anthropologists ( Cartry 2002: 643 ), it has nonetheless been interpreted in such various manners that any assumption of a common sacrificial model (from Mauss and Hubert to Girard) is
Based on fieldwork in Zabaikal'e, this report describes Orochen hunters' and reindeer herders' uses and interpretations of fire. Ethnographic evidence presents a wide use of fire and smoke in daily life in the taiga. Fire and smoke play a crucial role in reindeer herding and hunting of ungulates and fur animals. The author argues that fire symbols are an important part of Orochen cosmology and relate to broader themes of hunting magic, mastery, and the perception of animals. Research into the cosmological knowledge of fire uses provides us with a broader scope of interpretation of camping characteristics and land use.
Luck and the Lived Experience of Relatedness in Contemporary Japan
This article explores the Japanese notion of luck as a relational mode of action that encapsulates a complex understanding about self, society, and cosmos. Drawing on ethnographic data gathered in 30 urban homes in the Kansai region (Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara) in 2003, I aim to demonstrate how, by engaging in a range of material practices, people create beneficial connections with spirits, people, and places to protect the home from malevolent influences and to ensure the happiness and well-being of its occupants. It will be argued that this protective system can be maintained only through both the relentless 'labor of luck' performed by married women as 'moral persons' and the persistent circulation of luck between religious institutions, commercial businesses, and homes.
Magic, Sorcery, and Warrior Shamanism in Venezuela
In the area of the Upper Orinoco River in Venezuela, Yanomami shapori (shamans) engage in hostile acts against their colleagues and people (especially children) living in distant villages in order to inflict misery and death. These combative magical practices are primarily motivated by retribution for past assaults of a similar kind. While in most cases the shapori perform these activities intentionally, this article argues that the malevolent non-human acts are also driven by the cannibalistic nature of hekura spirits, which demand human souls. In this way, although shapori intentionally engage in bellicose activities, they must sometimes kill in order to appease the ancestral spirits and thus spare the lives of their own kin. This article focuses on the dark side of Yanomami shamanistic practices in order to counterbalance tendencies that emphasize the more positive, therapeutic aspects of shamanism, namely, its socially integrative roles.