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Pentecostal Networks and the Spirit of Globalization

On the Social Productivity of Ritual Forms

Joel Robbins

Pentecostal Christianity has in the last several decades demonstrated an ability to globalize with great speed and to flourish in social contexts of poverty and disorganization in which other social institutions have been unable to sustain themselves. This article asks why Pentecostalism should be so successful at institution building in harsh environments. I argue that this question is more fundamental than those scholars more often ask about the kinds of compensations that Pentecostalism provides for its adherents. I then draw on Collins's theory of interaction ritual chains to suggest that it is Pentecostalism's promotion of ritual to the center of social life that grounds its unusual institution-building capacity.

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Pierre Déléage

This article develops an epidemiological approach to the analysis of ritual discourse, comparing three distinct genres of Amazonian ritual chants: Wayana, Sharanahua, and Ingarikó. The aim is not to identify the inherent properties of chants, nor to establish ideal types of ritual context (initiation, shamanism, prophetism), but to analyze the different factors affecting the stabilization of the heterogeneous elements of ritual traditions. First, I identify the different procedures (order transfer, parallelism, intersemioticity, and inscription) that stabilize content. Then, assuming that the spread of ritual chants depends on an institutional apparatus, I explore the chants’ rules of distribution and the types of legitimizing authority involved. Finally, I show how the combined analysis of these different factors offers us a new way of understanding ritual innovation.

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Other Times, Other Worlds

Archaeology, Ritual, and Religion

Marc Verhoeven

This article is an introduction to the emerging sub-discipline of the archaeology of ritual and religion. It addresses the question of how archaeologists can approach these fields: what are the challenges and opportunities? Using theory and methodology, ritual and religion are explored in the archaeological record by means of so-called framing, and an interpretation is attempted through analogy and 'ethos'. Selected Neolithic sites from the Near East that have yielded rich and important data regarding ritual and religion serve as examples.

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Jos D. M. Platenkamp

This article presents an analysis of the canoe racing ritual conducted in the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers bordering the town of Luang Prabang in North Laos as part of an annual ritual cycle. It focuses upon the ways in which the socio-political order, articulated in the ritual, is valorized in reference to a model of cosmological sovereignty that is manifested in offerings brought to aquatic spirit manifestations of a primordial King and his Queen-Consorts. It identifies the present-day changes in the ritual that have been implemented by the socialist Lao state as part of an endeavor to replace the principle of monarchic sovereignty with the authority of the state and to supplant the socio-cosmological understanding of society with a corporate model of bureaucracy and market economy variables.

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"Blood Will Have Blood"

A Study in Indian Political Ritual

Jacob Copeman

This article considers the significance of the incorporation of blood donation as a widespread feature of commemorative political rituals in India. It places the rituals in the context of the current campaign in India to replace paid with non-remunerated donation, and explains how this campaign has led to the circulation of a store of ethical capital that the ritual organizers endeavor—through these blood-shedding commemorations—to capture for political ends. It is argued that there is nothing purely political about memorial blood donation—that its performance relies upon certain established religious themes in order to achieve political efficacy, and that this works both ways. The article highlights the role of blood donation in facilitating bodily transactions across and between different temporal locations, and finishes with a case study that demonstrates the risk involved in these rituals of remembrance.

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What If We Don't Know Our Clan?

The City as New Ritual Form in Buriatiia

Justine Buck Quijada

“Traditionally” Buriat shamanism is clan-based. Ritual practice embedded kinship relations within a sacred geography, linking the living and the dead through a relationship to the landscape, reaffirmed at yearly tailgan ceremonies. In Buriatiia, Soviet modernization transformed the Buriat relationship to the land, and with it, the conditions of shamanic practice. As a result, many urban Buriats either do not know their clan affiliation, or no longer hold clan ceremonies. In response, two urban shaman's organizations have begun to hold tailgans on behalf of the residents of the city. The new ritual form relieves anxiety at the loss of tradition and underscores that loss. However, by redefining the ritual community around the city instead of the clan, the ritual community becomes multiethnic.

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Aidarbek Kochkunov

This article analyses one of the most important components of Kyrgyz culture - the tradition and ritual of hospitality. Features of traditional and modern hospitality are examined on the basis of literary sources and the author's fieldwork. The hospitality ritual and the norms associated with guests are discussed first in their traditional and then in their modern aspects. The author argues that ethnic specificities have been maintained on a large scale. Gender and age in the organisation of meals, as well as the prestige of meat dishes, continue to have traditional character, and the importance of hospitality has been imparted to younger generations. The author concludes that the interaction of innovations and traditions constitute the main content, development and present characteristics of Kyrgyz customs and hospitality rituals.

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Piroska Nagy

This essay focuses on a strange medieval phenomenon, the so-called gift of tears—religious weeping that brings beatitude. This internal purifying process, which was embedded in the specific conditions of historical Christianity, was described and understood as a procedure in which God himself acts and, therefore, as a process that human-kind cannot learn, formalize, or ritualize. However, the author analyzes religious weeping as a peculiar, `intimate ritual' in which the formalized process took place in the soul or spirituality of the weeping person. This essay aims to describe and analyze this practice while examining the historical conditions that enabled such a cultural elaboration to develop.

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Instructive Ritual

The Arab Student Union and the Communitas of the Palestinian Israeli Educated

Lauren Erdreich

In spite of state efforts to limit public nationalist ritual of the Palestinian Israeli community, one ritual system, as this article details, is kept intact by the Arab Student Union (ASU). Based on an ethnographic study of the Hebrew University ASU, I show how this ritual system is instructive in a specific, educated Palestinian Israeli identity. Instruction revolves around the root paradigms of a specifically Israeli Palestinian-ness and of the national responsibility of the educated. The instructive ritual system arouses communitas of the educated Palestinian community through instruction carried out in the context of sacralized space and time and by means of the use of ritual art and events, the recruitment of ritual commentators, and the intermeshing of ethos and world-view. This ritual system can be understood as an indigenous Palestinian Israeli pedagogy for liberation.

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P. Steven Sangren

For many Western observers, Chinese religion and cosmology appear rife with contradictions, among them the recurrent motif in litera- ture and myth of preordination or fate, on the one hand, and a relentless attempt, through ritual means, to discern, control, or change fate, on the other. This article argues that the obsession with fate and luck is best comprehended with reference to desire understood as a human universal. Underlying one's hope to control the future lies a psychologically more fundamental wish to claim ownership of one's being. I argue that fate and luck are operators in a symbolic economy that implicitly posits what Freud terms the 'omnipotence of thoughts'. Moreover, if the underlying principle of Chinese notions of fate and luck can be termed an 'economy of desire', it is a principle that also coordinates and encompasses Chinese patriliny, family dynamics, and wider collective institutions.