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The Art of Capture

Hidden Jokes and the Reinvention of Animistic Ontologies in Southwest China

Katherine Swancutt

the animistic transformations of material objects and sacrificial animals used to lure spirits, ghosts, and human souls into their ritual purview ( Swancutt 2015: 136–138 ). On another level, my case studies suggest that the concept of animism commands

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Battle of Cosmologies

The Catholic Church, Adat, and ‘Inculturation’ among Northern Lio, Indonesia

Signe Howell

council of ‘priest-leaders’ ( mosa laki ) wields political, religious, and ritual authority. The priest-leaders’ authority is grounded in the cosmogenic past, manifested and perpetuated through aristocratic patrilineal descent and the prescriptive alliance

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Narratives of the Invisible

Autobiography, Kinship, and Alterity in Native Amazonia

Vanessa Elisa Grotti and Marc Brightman

societies outside Amazonia ( Chaumeil 1983 ; Eliade 1964 ; Harner 1973) . In native Amazonia, a genre of ritual autobiography exists that combines mythic narratives and stories of personal experience in performances of dreams and visions, and the analysis

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Introduction

Why Ritual in Its Own Right? How So?

Don Handelman

Calvin, who introduces this collection of essays on ritual in its own right, understands ritual as well as many anthropologists. Calvin is dramatizing thematics that I am trying to avoid. Complaining about the peanut butter, spoiled because his mother did not observe the proper ritual for scooping it out, he is telling us: do the ritual correctly. It exists because it has a function—control. Perform control in your ritual, and you will have control in your life. The ritual of how to scoop out peanut butter is a representation of life. Living produces its own symbols, its own reflections, and these are the ritual, existing to enact themes of living—here that of control. The ritual has meaning, otherwise why the argument between Calvin and his mother over its importance for living? For Calvin, scooping out peanut butter is akin to a Geertzian model of and model for living—you scoop peanut butter the way you live your life. One thing is certain: to understand the peanut butter ritual, one begins with life, not with a jar of peanut butter. First, though, let’s have a look at the peanut butter in the jar …

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The Colonial State and Carnival

The Complexity and Ambiguity of Carnival in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa

Christoph Kohl

In history and the social sciences, carnival phenomena have attracted much research interest. Their multi-layered meanings and associated ritual inversions have revealed divergent views about social and political conditions. On a general level

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Capacity as Aggregation

Promises, Water and a Form of Collective Care in Northeast Brazil

Andrea Ballestero

’s search for society led them to the state in the shape of its local, regional and state-wide representatives. Third, the Pact organizers conducted a series of public promise-making rituals whereby participants would commit to act ethically and do what was

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Ekaterina Chekhorduna, Nina Filippova, and Diana Efimova

Translator : Jenanne K. Ferguson

); and social (material culture, freedom, equality, justice, ritual traditions). Mastering the native language, too, is considered a spiritual and moral value, and the language of Olonkho serves as a means of understanding the life-affirming power of

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Bringing the Soul Back to the Self

Soul Retrieval in Neo-shamanism

Galina Lindquist

It has been generally agreed that rituals of healing work through transforming the embodied self; thus, they are especially fit to be analyzed as rituals in their own right. This chapter focuses on the ritual of soul retrieval as it is practiced by Western urban neo-shamans. It argues that apart from giving the patient new memories and new narratives of the self, this version of soul retrieval works by staging a formalized context for forgiveness, here conceptualized as reconciliation between the self and the mundane and divine others. It is argued, however, that the mechanism of this healing ritual is better understood in the light of New Age ontologies of the self, consciousness, and the divine, making ‘ritual in its own right‚’ a good first step towards re-engaging with the social.

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Enjoying an Emerging Alternative World

Ritual in Its Own Ludic Right

André Droogers

Ritual can be rehabilitated in its own right by emphasizing what it has in common with play: the ludic evocation of a simultaneous shadow reality. What is more, ritual can be understood as an enjoyable form of playing with realities. More than a solemn occasion, useful because of its social and cultural functions, ritual is a festive enactment of a counterreality. Connectionist ideas on the parallel processing of schemas and repertoires lend themselves for mapping the properties of ritual in its own ludic right. The human mind allows for a rapid comparison by the parallel—and not serial or sequential— processing of alternative schemas for thought, action, and emotion. An ethnographic illustration is taken from a boys’ initiation ritual among the Wagenia (Congo).

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The Red and the Black

A Practical Experiment for Thinking about Ritual

Michael Houseman

This essay reports on the performance of an initiatory rite of the author’s invention, undertaken as a practical experiment for thinking about certain recurrent features of ritual action and, specifically, of (male) initiation. In keeping with an approach that sees ritual as the enactment of special relationships, this initiation, The Red and the Black, was designed to demonstrate the importance of interactive patterning both for the structuring of ritual performance and for the participants’ commitment to the relationships they ritually enact. Its meaningfulness, as well as its capacity to affect the participants’ perceptions and ideas, is shown to derive less from the (minimal) explicit symbolism it employs, the beliefs it presupposes, or the social functions that can be attributed to it than from the relational entailments of the coordinate interactions it involves. Framing, simulation, secrecy, imposed suffering, symbolism, ceremonial efficacy, ritual condensation, and the complex interplay of in-group and out-group perspectives are among the issues that are illustrated and discussed.