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Building a House in Nepal

Auspiciousness as a Practice of Emplacement

John Gray

The subject of auspiciousness and inauspiciousness in South Asian society has largely been analyzed as a temporal condition in which there is a harmonious or inharmonious conjunction of people and events in time. In this article, the construction of houses by high-caste people living in a hamlet in Nepal is used to argue for a reconceptualization of auspiciousness and inauspiciousness as practices of emplacement in space and time. The analysis demonstrates how the rituals associated with the various stages of construction ensure the new house's compatibility with its spatial milieu—the soil, the site, the cardinal directions, and the reigning deities, as well as the vital force of the earth. Together with the auspicious timing of each stage of construction and its associated ritual with the owner's horoscope, the result of the building process shows auspiciousness to be a harmonious conjunction of person, place, and time.

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A Ritual Demystified

The Work of Anti-wonder among Sufi Reformists and Traditionalists in a Macedonian Roma Neighborhood

Galina Oustinova-Stjepanovic

This article describes how an iconic mystical Sufi ritual of body wounding, zarf, was stripped of its mystical credentials and conventional efficacy amid tensions between Rifai reformists and traditionalists in a small Roma neighborhood in Skopje, Macedonia. The death of a sorcerer and a funeral event-series set the scene for acts of ‘anti-wonder’ and demystification by the Rifai reformists. Despite the history of socialist secularism and inadvertently secularizing Islamic reforms in the region, demystification signaled not the loss of enchantment per se, but a competition for legitimate forms of wonder. In addition to accounting for socio-historical context and relational forms of Islam, the real challenge is how to see a demystified ritual for its explicit intellectual capacity to stimulate speculation about itself.

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Remembering Bali as Paradise

The Bombing of Kuta and the Recovery of the Balinese Tourist Identity

Clare B. Fischer

The 2002 bombing of the tourist nightclubs in Bali created multiple disturbances: it exposed the history of violence, destabilized the tourism economy and prompted a public debate about the comparative virtues of a revitalized tourism industry. Two televised commemorative ceremonies were performed to restore local relations and the global memory of Bali as a peaceful, tropical paradise: the cleansing ceremony and the first anniversary ceremony. Rather than promoting healing, these rituals further disclosed and exacerbated complex tensions within the Balinese society and its tourism industry.

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Raw liver, singed sheep's head, and boiled stomach pudding

Encounters with traditional Buriat cuisine

Sharon Hudgins

Indigenous to Inner Asia, Buriats are a formerly nomadic people who now reside in southern Siberia, in the areas east and west of Lake Baikal. Although settled members of the Russian Federation, their traditional cuisine reflects their nomadic roots. Milk and meat products - from horses, cattle, sheep, and goats - are still the two main components of the Buriats' diet, supplemented by wild and cultivated plants (primarily hardy grains and root vegetables). Despite living within the dominant Russian culture, some Buriats still retain their shamanistic beliefs and make offerings to deities or spirits when drinking alcohol or eating certain foods. They have also preserved their ritual methods of slaughtering and butchering livestock, as well as traditional ways of processing the meat.

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The 'Gendered Field' of Kaolinite Clay Production

Performance Characteristics among the Balengou

Ngambouk V. Pemunta

This article examines the 'gendered field' of kaolinite clay production and its integration into the local socio-cultural universe of the Balengou of the Western region of Cameroon. Kaolinite clay is produced and ingested mainly by women, especially during pregnancy so as to ensure that their children are born 'clean'. Used as a herbal additive, the clay is also believed to be imbued with sacred qualities and has a symbolic role in various communal rituals. Although geophagy—the practice of eating earth—is associated with harmful health effects, the various affordances offered by kaolinite clay as a valuable object of material culture constitute a specific entanglement of nature and culture. This study makes a modest contribution to the literature on the 'politics of value' and on the relationality of human/non-human interactions.

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Conceiving Judaism

The Challenges of Same-Sex Parenthood

Sibylle Lustenberger

In Israel, personal status is regulated through religious law. This gives Orthodox rabbis the state-sanctioned power to define who is Jewish and to enable and recognize marriage. The impediments that religious law poses to same-sex couples and their children are serious: same-sex couples are excluded from marriage, and their children's religious status is at risk. In this article, I contrast these rabbinic exclusions with the ways that same-sex couples, both religious and non-religious, use Jewish traditions to establish social legitimacy and belonging for themselves and their children. Based on ethnographic findings, the article suggests that the Jewish ritual of circumcision for boys and childbirth celebrations for girls are moments in which relationships are reaffirmed. Even more so, the social networks displayed at these events and the participation of religious specialists (mohalim) performing the circumcision carry a clear message: these families are authentically a part of the Jewish-Israeli collective despite rabbinic opposition.

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Nation Building and the Battle for Consciousness

Discourses on Education in Post-Apartheid Namibia

Mattia Fumanti

Education carries strong emotional connotation in Africa, not least for its association with emancipation, liberation, and social mobility. Drawing on research conducted in Northern Namibia, this essay examines how education is conceived by a cadre of elite, educated professionals working in the Ministry of Basic Education regional offices. It contrasts these officials' views with those of white settlers, many of whom, in contrast, place their faith in the market, not in a regulatory state—and certainly not in a regional educational office. Whereas elite officials deploy images of education for purposes of state making and state ceremonialism, white businessmen use education to undo officials' authority, with the effect, implicitly, of reinscribing apartheid visions of race and governance. This article draws on, and offers ethnographic evidence in support of, a body of theoretical work on state-ritualized uses of education, civil religion, and the moral character (and counter-morality) of state education.

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The Psychological Benefits of the Traditional Jewish Mourning Rituals

Have the Changes Instituted by the Progressive Movement Enhanced or Diminished Them?

Erlene Wahlhaus

This article describes the traditional Jewish laws and customs of mourning, translates and evaluates their psychological benefit and contribution to recovery from bereavement. It further investigates the influence of Progressive Judaism where its approach differs to that of traditional practice: does this enhance or diminish the psychological value of Jewish mourning rituals?

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The Three Burials of Aslak Hætta and Mons Somby

Repatriation Narratives and Ritual Performances

Stein R. Mathisen

Introduction: History, Ethnic Conflicts, the Dead, and Their Remains The historical backdrop for the events, narratives, and ritual ceremonies discussed in this article is the Kautokeino rebellion of 1852, leading to the death sentence and

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Introduction

Legacies, Trajectories, and Comparison in the Anthropology of Buddhism

Nicolas Sihlé and Patrice Ladwig

, and in particular with Vajrayāna or tantric Buddhism, a strongly ritual-centered current that is found among the latter traditions and is particularly present in Nepal, Tibet, and Mongolian areas. 1 The reasons for the predominance of studies on