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Encountering the Supernatural

A Phenomenological Account of Mind

Julia Cassaniti and Tanya Marie Luhrmann

In this article we compare the encounter with the supernatural—experiences in which a person senses the immaterial—in Thailand and in the United States. These experiences appear to be shaped by different conceptions of the mind. In the US, there is a sharp, natural division between one's mind and the world; in Thailand, individuals have the moral responsibility to control their minds. These differences appear to explain how people identify and sense the supernatural. In the US, it is an external, responsive agent; in Thailand, it is an energy that escapes from an uncontrolled mind. Here we approach phenomenology—the experience of experience—comparatively, identifying patterns in social expectations that affect the ways in which humans think, feel, and sense. We take an experiential category of life that we know to be universal and use it to analyze cultural concepts that influence the enactment and interpretation of feeling and sensing.

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Jean Comaroff

Jean Comaroff, Peter Geschiere, Kamari M. Clarke, and Adeline Masquelier

Colonial frontiers, we have long been told, put conventional categories at risk. I grew up on one such frontier, itself an anachronism in the late-twentieth-century world—apartheid South Africa, where many of the key terms of liberal modernity were scandalously, publically violated. Religion was one of them. Some have argued that the act of separating the sacred from the secular is the founding gesture of liberal modern state making (Asad 2003: 13). In this, South Africa was a flagrant exception. There, the line between faith and politics was always overtly contested, always palpably porous. Faith-based arguments were central to politics at its most pragmatic, to competing claims of sovereignty and citizenship, to debates about the nature of civilization or the content of school curricula. As a settler colony, South Africa had long experimented with ways to ‘modernize racial domination’ (Adam 1971) in the interests of capitalist production, frequently with appeals to theology. After 1948, in contrast with the spirit of a decolonizing world, the country fell under the sway of Afrikaner rulers of overtly Calvinist bent. They set about formalizing a racial division of labor that ensured that black populations, the Children of Ham, remained economically subservient and politically marginal.

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reevaluated the central categories of the field, the series aims to surpass that good work by rebuilding the vocabulary of, and establishing new questions for, religious studies. “The series will publish authors who understand descriptions of religion to be

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Religious Tourism

Analytical Routes through Multiple Meanings

Emerson Giumbelli

Translator : Jeffrey Hoff

religion and tourism cannot be separated from a critical reflection about these categories. In other words, to focus on interactions does not mean that religion and tourism are not seen as essentially opposite. I believe that something of this opposition is

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Legacies, Trajectories, and Comparison in the Anthropology of Buddhism

Nicolas Sihlé and Patrice Ladwig

analytical category as well, would we not be left without the means to ask certain important and notably comparative questions (something to which we shall return below)? Would there still be a place for a tradition of inquiry about what makes a Buddhist (or

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Khaled Furani

the four-field approach practiced in the United States. The sacredness that remains unwrapped, all desacralizing intentions notwithstanding, is the category of the human itself, for humanism (and kindred categories such as culture and cultural

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Narratives, Ontologies, Entanglements, and Iconoclasms

Sondra L. Hausner, Simon Coleman, and Ruy Llera Blanes

the nature of belief in multiple ethnographic settings. First, Annelin Eriksen shows us how Pentecostalism introduces the newness of difference into a category—namely, gender—that in the Melanesian context has historically been charged with maintaining

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Around Abby Day’s Believing in Belonging

Belief and Social Identity in the Modern World

Christopher R. Cotter, Grace Davie, James A. Beckford, Saliha Chattoo, Mia Lövheim, Manuel A. Vásquez, and Abby Day

guides to belief and/or identities.” This point is exemplified best in the case of the ‘nones’—a residual category constructed by censuses and surveys that, once in place, has seen scholars, journalists, politicians, and others rushing to “imbue this

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The Chaco Skies

A Socio-cultural History of Power Relations

Alejandro Martín López and Agustina Altman

acknowledged as having the authority to speak of the creation of the world and its inhabitants. 4 Among these elders there was a category that enjoyed special prestige—the pi’xonaq (male shaman) and pi’xonaxa (female shaman), who were able to travel

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The Uncanniness of Missionary Others

A Discursive Analysis of a Century of Anthropological Writings on Missionary Ethnographers

Travis Warren Cooper

the social fabric , and was depriving the people of many interests besides those the destruction of which he had willed. Similar to Rivers’s application of the categories of destruction and deprivation, Evans-Pritchard posits as the most pressing