Over the last fifty years, Muslims and Christians have never talked so much with each other, according to Jean Claude Basset. However, he writes that it is mainly a small elite group of scholars who are doing the talking Ismail Faruqi described Muslim-Christian dialogue as a 'failure, a struggling desperately to survive', and in vain, with no visible results. He argued that Muslim-Christian dialogue has mostly been led by Christians; Muslims as 'invited guests' have thus not been free to speak being obligated to their 'hosts'. Furthermore, participant Muslims are often selected by Church authorities, rather than elected or appointed by their communities. Although a good number of dialogues have been organized at the international level with the support of religious organizations, they claim little impact beyond more local initiatives, have not prevented mistrust and conflicts from occurring, and have offered little help in healing wounds and restoring peace.
Signs of Hope
Guat Kwee See
This article examines Jonathan Caouette's Tarnation as a creative enterprise that opens up new ideas about documentary film and insights into working with new media. It considers how the making of this film worked as a prosthetic aspect to the filmmaker's identity and stability. In examining the interplay of sound, image, and written text, I note how Tarnation develops an artistic meditation on a number of important topics: the representation of trauma, the abstract and formal means of expressing the fragility of survival, the damage to memory and to identity that family dys-function causes, the technical demands of creating narratives of broken and contested lives. The material in the film and its mode of composition from the perspective of psychoanalytic studies of mourning, gay performance and identity, gender dysphoria and its relation to loss, and artistic projects as acts of healing are also considered.
Science/Religion versus Sukuma Magic
Typically, magic takes no stance against the socialized beliefs that determine it, in contrast with both science and modern religion, which, in the face of doubt, assert the truth-value of their propositions against such determination. In other words, science and religion engage in 'believed belief'. Their aversion to magical belief is the one thing they can agree on. Believed beliefs produce convictions of truth sufficiently intense to base actions on, such as the killing of someone identified as a witch. Ethnography on Sukuma healing allows us to distinguish this experience of the witch from that of oracles and magical remedies. While research in terms of belief(s) tends to oppose cultures, an approach based on experiential structures links up seemingly distinct practices from different cultures, while differentiating seemingly similar practices within a culture.
Ruy Llera Blanes, Sverker Finnström, John Harald Sande Lie, Dieter Devos, Natalia De Marinis, Sergio González Varela, and Nicolas Argenti
Dena Freeman, ed., Pentecostalism and Development: Churches, NGOs and Social Change in Africa Review by Ruy Llera Blanes
Nicolas Argenti and Katharina Schramm, eds., Remembering Violence: Anthropological Perspectives on Intergenerational Transmission Review by Sverker Finnström
Soumhya Venkatesan and Thomas Yarrow, eds., Differentiating Development: Beyond an Anthropology of Critique Review by Jon Harald Sande Lie
Michael Jindra and Joël Noret, eds., Funerals in Africa: Explorations of a Social Phenomenon Review by Dieter Devos
Heidi Moksnes, Maya Exodus: Indigenous Struggle for Citizenship in Chiapas Review by Natalia De Marinis
Diana Paton and Maarit Forde, eds., Obeah and Other Powers: The Politics of Caribbean Religion and Healing Review by Sergio González Varela
Charles Stewart, Dreaming and Historical Consciousness in Island Greece Review by Nicolas Argenti
Multigenerational Perspectives on American Archaeology-Museum Relationships
April M. Beisaw and Penelope H. Duus
At the turn of the twentieth century, American museums helped to legitimize archaeology as a scientific discipline. By the next century, repatriation legislation had forced archaeologists to confront the dehumanization that can take place when bodies and sacred objects are treated as scientific specimens. Charting the future(s) of archaeology-museum relationships requires us to (1) recognize where, when, and how harm has been done, (2) confront those harmful precedents, and (3) restructure collections and exhibits in ways that heal wounds and advance research. Current research on the 1916 Susquehanna River Expedition, an archaeology-museum project funded by George Gustav Heye, provides insight into how our predecessors viewed their work. Using the expedition project as backdrop, an archaeology professor and an undergraduate student engage in a dialogue that explores the changing roles of American museums as the public faces of archaeology, training grounds for young professionals, and cultural centers for us all.
Social, Political, and Shamanic Power in Siberia
Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer
An analysis of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) in the Russian Federation reveals a variety of village and urban reactions to crises of faith and power. The significance for group identity and instances of synergistic group belief are discussed. The transition that has seen amorphous underground shamanic practice lead to the institutionalization of shamanic cosmology is reflected in the recent opening of a temple in the Republic's capital, Yakutsk, and in the various groups that adhere to charismatic healers and seers. Debates about faith, as well as fragmented faith epistemologies, are described. The data derive from over 25 years of intermittent fieldwork in the Republic and with the Sakha diaspora. My approach is situated at the crossroads of medical-psychological anthropology, political anthropology, and new religious movement analysis.
The disagreement between Germany and the United States over the
war in Iraq was massive. During the winter of 2002, many observers
spoke of a long-term rift between these longstanding allies and a
total loss of credibility on both sides. No one can doubt, regardless
of recent healing overtures,1 that the German-American partnership
has been altered and significantly weakened. It has suffered a blow
far more damaging than those that accompanied past conflicts over,
for example, Ostpolitik, the neutron bomb, the Soviet gas pipeline,
the flow of high technology products to the Soviet Union, the imposition
of trade sanctions in 1980 against the military government in
Poland, the stationing in the late 1970s of middle-range missiles on
German soil, and the modernization of short-range missiles in 1989.
Cross-Cultural Articulations of War Magic and Warrior Religion
D. S. Farrer
Previous anthropology emphasized symbolic incantations at the expense of the embodied practice of magic. Foregrounding embodiment and performance in war magic and warrior religion collapses the mind-body dualism of magic versus rationality, instead highlighting social action, innovation, and the revitalization of tradition, as tempered historically by colonial and post-colonial trajectories in societies undergoing rapid social transformation. Religion and magic are re-evaluated from the perspective of the practitioner's and the victim's embodiment in their experiential life-worlds via articles discussing Chinese exorcists, Javanese spirit siblings, Sumatran black magic, Tamil Tiger suicide bombers, Chamorro spiritual re-enchantment, tantric Buddhist war magic, and Yanomami dark shamans. Central themes include violence and healing, accomplished through ritual and performance, to unleash and/or control the power of gods, demons, ghosts and the dead.
What, if not Durkheim’s ‘collective representations’ acquired during exalted states of effervescence, gives rise to society, culture and science? Marcel Mauss provides another answer by pointing to the different rhythms of social relationships and the human effort to synchronise them. The seasonal cycle of the Eskimo [Inuit], Mauss argues, is in accord with their game; hence people disperse in summer to pursue economic activities in small bands, while they congregate in dense house-complexes in winter and engage in ritual. It would appear that Mauss draws heavily on Boas’s contrast between the Kwakiutl winter celebrations and their ‘uninitiated’ livelihood in summer. These insights have traction for medical anthropologists who are interested in finding an anthropological explanation for the efficaciousness of ‘traditional’ medicines or ‘indigenous’ healing techniques.
The Kardecist-Spiritist Disobsession in Brazil
Sidney M. Greenfield
This essay examines a ritual called a 'disobsession' by Brazilian Kardecist-Spiritists, discussing how it might affect the biophysiology of the patient and provide more than symbolic assistance. In the ritual, mediums enter into trance, communicate with and/or receive spirits, and engage in exchanges with them, while the patient being treated merely observes. Since the sufferer is not knowledgeable about the Kardecist belief system, an analysis that assumes shared values, contexts, and systems of semiosis between healer and patient does not apply. I argue instead that the participants are in a trance-like, hypnotic state during which they respond as do patients treated elsewhere with hypnotically facilitated psychology or hypnotherapy. While not necessarily aware of it, during the ritual they internalize beliefs about the powers of spirits that may be transduced to produce proteins that activate the immune and other bodily systems, thereby contributing to their cure.