This is a performative engagement with the theory and practice of Black girlhood. I begin with an excerpt from my play-in-process, crushed little stars, which is itself a meditation on the sad Black girl. I share this process of play not only to present play making as a powerful epistemological tool, but also to blur the boundaries between what constitutes theory as opposed to practice. I (re)imagine Black girl sociality as a site of restoration and healing against the racist, sexist, and ageist world with which Black girls are forced to contend. Accordingly, this project contributes to the diversification of girlhood studies, challenging the disciplinarity of the field by extending ethnographic and sociological perspectives to include the vantage point of performance and creative practice.
A Praxis-in-Process of Black Girlhood
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.
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.
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.
A Croatian Example
In this paper I explore the link between research into contemporary alternative medical practices (CAM) and activism. It is based on my recent research (2004-2007) which dealt with the interrelatedness and coexistence of biomedical and non-biomedical systems in the city of Zagreb. The process of adoption and introduction of CAM to Western European countries started some twenty years ago and in Zagreb the process was evident after the fall of communism. My research started with patients and their attitudes towards illness, health, well-being and suffering, factors that determined their choice of therapies and healers. However, hearing stories of people's experiences of CAM propelled me into the role of therapist as listener and, through attending to the silence surrounding the use of CAM in a relatively hostile society, the role of anthropologist as activist. Through the process of understanding and interpreting sensitive cultural practices, I explore whether anthropologists are uniquely placed to actively protect the rights of people to whom they owe their science.
Pilgrimage Patterns and Authorial Self-Presentation in Three Pilgrimage Texts
This paper explores a theme important in pilgrimage narratives from a variety of cultures: the expression of the author/pilgrim’s developing understanding of the meaning and significance of his or her pilgrimage. It does so through three case studies: readings of three first-person narratives from widely differing chronological, cultural and religious milieux. The first narrative is Aelius Aristides’ The Sacred Tales, an ancient Greek text written AD c. 170, which evokes the culture of Graeco- Roman healing pilgrimage; the second is Friar Felix Fabri’s Evagatorium in Terrae Sanctae (‘Wanderings in the Holy Land’), a Latin narrative of Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land written c.1484–8; and the third is Pierre Loti’s Un pèlerin d’Angkor (‘An Angkor Pilgrim’), a French text relating a personal (and initially nonreligious) pilgrimage to the temples of Angkor in what was then French Indo-China, published in 1912. These three narratives were produced in cultures with profoundly different traditions of pilgrimage, including its practice, its cultural meanings and the modes of its description. These significant differences immediately raise the question of the meaning and usefulness of attaching the label ‘pilgrimage narratives’ to all three texts, and invite a reasoning for the exercise of comparison across cultures and across time.
The ‘Latvian Stonehenge’
The ideologies, beliefs and practices associated with new cult places in post-Soviet Latvia are discussed. When social movement for the restoration of an independent nation state started at the end of the 1980s, new pantheistic cult sites gained a certain topicality. In relation to such sites esoteric New Age style ideologies and practices were constructed. Pokaiņi forest - a remote place in Latvia, abundant in stone piles and big stones, has been interpreted as an ancient sanctuary of global significance, as a cosmological and healing centre. Latvian scholars - archaeologists, geologists and folklorists - are treating Pokaiņi as a site with traces of ancient agricultural activity, and its popularity is attributed to the 'use of good management'. The historical perspective of the Pokaiņi phenomenon and modern interpretations of its perception are discussed in the context of revitalisation movements. The analysis of the complex socio-cultural situation of Latvia in the turn of the twentieth and the twenty- first century reveals the reasons, facilitating the emergence and significance of Pokaiņi and similar phenomena in post-Soviet Latvia.
Penelope Anthias, Smith James H., Markku Hokkanen, Robert W. Thurston, Robert W. Lyons, and Thomas Solomon
Nicole Fabricant and Bret Gustafson, eds., Remapping Bolivia: Resources, Territory, and Indigeneity in a Plurinational State (Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press, 2011), viii, 251 pp. ISBN 978-1-934691-51-9.
Koen Stroeken, Moral Power: The Magic of Witchcraft, vol. 9, Epistemologies of Healing (New York: Berghahn Books, 2010), xiv, 269 pp. ISBN 978-1-84545-735-8.
P. Wenzel Geissler and Catherine Molyneux, eds., Evidence, Ethos and Experiment: The Anthropology and History of Medical Research in Africa (New York: Berghahn Books, 2011), 498 pp. ISBN 978-0-85745-092-0.
Paige West, From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive: The Social World of Coffee from Papua New Guinea (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012), xviii, 316 pp. ISBN 978-0-82235-150-4.
Yael Navaro-Yashin, The Make-Believe Space: Affective Geography in a Postwar Polity (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012), xxiv, 271 pp. ISBN 978-0-82235-204-4.
Dana Rappoport, Songs from the Thrice-Blooded Land: Ritual Music of the Toraja (Sulawesi, Indonesia), trans. Timothy Seller, Elisabeth Coville, and Stanislaus Sandarupa (Paris: Éditions Épistèmes and Éditions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 2009), 2 vols., 213 pp., 181 pp., DVD-ROM. ISBN 978-2-73511-260-9.
Geraldine Bloustien and Margaret Peters, Youth, Music and Creative Cultures: Playing for Life (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), xii, 296 pp. ISBN 978-0-23020-058-6.
The homology between the fragmented body politic and its suffering physical bodies in Titus Andronicus seems to suggest that Shakespeare represents physical disability negatively: as corruption, disorder, incapacity. By relying upon a corporeal metaphor of fragmentation to characterise the political state of Rome, Shakespeare makes the traumatised or dismembered body bear a negative ideological burden; political inefficacy seems to be equated with the violated body. Inversely, and to the same effect, Titus and Lavinia's violated bodies seem to render their access to political and social agency difficult, if not impossible. However, at both the metaphorical and material level, Shakespeare endows the dis-abled body with the capacity to heal or adapt itself under the most extenuating circumstances. Overcoming physical barriers to communication and action, Titus and Lavinia enable themselves to enact revenge. This essay argues that the adaptability of the political and physical body in Titus suggests a potentially affirmative way of reconceptualising the physically incomplete body - not as a disabled entity but as a body that can suffer partial losses and still survive, succeed even, if its constituent parts form their own internally coherent body.
Unwillingly and unwittingly, Jews have become 'icons' in Europe's new commemorative pluralist democracies. They have now set the standard for national commemoration of specific historical wrongs, for victimhood, for public visibility, for community organisation, for the right to multiple loyalties, and for a position that one can call selective national belonging; in brief, for real but also highly symbolic power. The main challenge Jews will be facing in the future will be that of making sure these 'iconic' rights are spread more globally in a setting of greater collective justice. But Jews, more than any other group, can also set the limits to too strong an identity pursuit. I believe there is an urgent need to recast a common belonging inside our respective countries and societies. The pendulum has swung too far in the direction of sanctified specific identities. The time has come to move it back toward a more moderate centre. Commemoration should lead to reconciliation, overcoming of the past, and healing, not to exacerbated identities. And Jews, precisely because of their iconic quality, now hold the keys to such a swing back. Otherwise we should not be surprised if Europe's Muslims follow the Jews in the path of declared victimhood, selective belonging, even disintegration through an implicitly hostile reading of the larger society outside.