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Images of Transgression

Teyyam in Malabar

Dinesan Vadakkiniyil

This article focuses on Muttappan and the practice of teyyam in Kerala, South India. The growing power and increasing presence of this ritual practice and its transition from traditional sacred spaces into modern public spheres, including cyberspace, are analyzed in order to understand its inner dynamics and potentialities. Engaged with the quotidian aspects of human existence, the male divinity Muttappan-teyyam is a being of the moment who overcomes any bounding or hierarchizing force in his path. I argue that Muttappan's modernity has a decentering and destabilizing fluidity that appeals to all social classes. The ritual practice has put the arts and the state at odds, with the latter co-opting it to serve the state's purposes through tourism and spectacles that encourage national solidarity.

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Danny Kaplan and Niza Yanay

Based on a case study of Israeli men's friendships, this article examines the inter-relations between the experience of male relationships in everyday life and established representations of fraternal friendship. We delineate a script for male bonding that echoes ancient epics of heroism. This script holds a mythic structure for making sense of friendship in everyday life and places male relatedness under the spectral ideal of death. Whereas various male-to-male arenas present diverse and often displaced expressions of male affection, we contend that sites of commemoration present a unique instance in which desire between men is publicly declared and legitimized. The collective rituals for the dead hero-friends serve as a mask that transforms a repudiated personal sentiment into a national genre of relatedness. We interpret fraternal friendship as a form of private/public identification/desire whereby the citizen brother becomes, via collective rituals of commemoration, the desired brother.

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Fortune in the Wind

An Impersonal Subjectivity

Caroline Humphrey and Hürelbaatar Ujeed

For Mongols, fortune is not just acquired or lost accidentally. Rituals are held to create an upsurge of fortune, to beckon, absorb, contain, and act upon it. This article focuses on two kinds of fortune-sülde (potency) and hiimori (vitality)-and the ritualized means to restore these qualities that otherwise become depleted of their own accord. It is argued that these ideas of fortune are ways of linking subjects to cosmological forces 'out there'. The paradox is that, by binding fortune into their bodies in an attempt to garner invincibility, bravery, and energy, people resonate to pulses that glide among, and fly beyond, their other constitutive physical bodily elements. Such occasions when sülde and hiimori are in play call into being a certain kind of person who seems to be rendered, at least for a moment, at one with the void.

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Jaap Bos, Keebet von Benda-Beckmann, Ad Borsboom, Andrew Richards, and Stephen Nugent

Anthony Elliott, Social theory since Freud: Traversing social imaginaries

James M. Donovan and H. Edwin Anderson, Anthropology and law by Keebet von Benda-Beckmann

Silvie Poirier, A world of relationships: Itineraries, dreams, and events in the Australian Western desert

Robert M. Fishman, Democracy’s voices: Social ties and the quality of public life in Spain

George Mentore, Of passionate curves and desirable cadences: Themes on Waiwai social being Suzanne Oakdale, I foresee my life: The ritual performance of autobiography in an Amazonian community

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Sacred Landscape, Healing Landscape

“Taking the Waters” in Tunka Valley, Russia

Katherine Metzo

This article examines the sacred mineral springs in Arshan, Buriatiia. These springs have been inscribed as sacred due to their medicinal properties and are marked as sacred through rituals and material offerings. Residents lament the loss of healing, and implicitly sacred, strength of Arshan. The author argues that the sense of loss is due to the medicalization of healing in Tsarist and Soviet times and from the commodification of this type of sacred site through bottling and tourism.

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Tatiana Bulgakova

This article discusses the sociological hierarchies among Nanay shamans. The shamans evaluate one another and the community also evaluates them, ranking them in myriad informal ways in terms of effectiveness with spirits and healing power. These rankings come about through discursive activities associated with recounting shamanic healing and other ritual practices. While shamans try to maintain close communicative and social relationships with their community, they actively avoid direct interaction with one another as part of a conflict avoidance strategy.

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Shamanism in Inner Asia

Two archetypes

T. D. Skrynnikova

The author considers that the term 'shamanism' is inappropriate to designate the phenomenon generally so described. Materials on the shamanism of the peoples of Inner Asia lead to the identification of two separate archetypes, i.e. east-Asian and southwest-Asian. Two traditional cultural codes are discussed - that concerned with the principal 'personages' (the supreme deities), and that with the 'agents' (the performers of the ritual). In the east-Asian archetype, the two principal deities are the Sky and the Earth, and the major socially significant rituals - for example, New Year - are carried out by secular leaders, such as the khan, elders, heads of clans, and others. In the southwest archetype, which developed under the influence of ancient Iranian and Indo-Arian traditions, there was a triad of heavenly beings, of which the major one was the Sun, accompanied by groups of other, lesser deities - those of the 'right' and those of the 'left'. The author concludes that only where the cult of the Sun is observed (later possibly mingled with the Thunder-god) do 'white' shamans perform the sacred functions and rituals.

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Galina Oustinova-Stjepanovic

Drawing on my experience of a Muslim version of exorcism in urban Macedonia, this article continues a methodological discussion of the implications of being an atheist anthropologist when researching religion, a situation known as 'methodological atheism'. Methodological atheism is often linked to the problem of suspending one's intellectual disregard of people's religions as delusions. This article will argue instead that there are barriers to participation in religious rituals that are not covered by questions of disbelief. The notion of 'dispositional atheism' is discussed against the backdrop of the anxieties, uncertainties, and inhibitions experienced by an atheist anthropologist caught up in a moment of religious intensity.

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Zoya Tarasova

Sakha epic songs, collectively called olongkho, embody the Sakha people's religious and mythological traditions. The olongkhos recount fascinating and dramatic connections between humans and deities, and portray ancient Sakha rituals. This article examines the roles of female characters in the epic "N'urgun Bootur the Swift," recorded by Platon Oiunskii. Female roles in this epic include goddesses, female shamans (udaghan), abducted beauties (bride or sister of the hero), and female warriors. The article compares these roles to the historical image of women in past and present Sakha culture, and interprets the underlying message of the olongkho for today's generation.

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Making a Home in Hokkaido

Examining the Ainu Chisei Nomi Ceremony

Nicole Inghilterra

The evolutionary importance of religion is a topic of considerable debate in recent scholarship. This article reassesses Neil Gordon Munro's ethnography of the Ainu people in Hokkaido area focusing attention on the Chisei Nomi ceremony. Munro describes kamui (ancestor spirits), who take part in the Chisei Nomi as active, observant, non-living persons. The ritual acts in the Chisei Nomi ceremony are reinterpreted using recent theoretical perspectives of perspectivism and evolutionary-communication theory. The Chisei Nomi promotes a healthy environment for close kin by establishing respect for long deceased ancestors.