Search Results

You are looking at 61 - 70 of 192 items for :

Clear All
Restricted access

Aref Abu-Rabia

The main purpose of this article is to describe traditional breastfeeding practices among the pastoral tribes in the Middle East. It also examines beliefs and attitudes towards breastfeeding and related issues, including pregnancy, infections of the breast nipple, sources of milk, 'bad milk' syndrome and breastfeeding as a contraceptive method. The most significant findings are that mothers relate breastfeeding to their physical and psychological state. There are also symbolic and emotional relationships between human babies and the colostrum of animals. A survey of medicinal cures for problems related to breastfeeding reveals that these cures are based on substances found in the desert pastoral environment.

Restricted access

Recursivity and the Self-Reflexive Cosmos

Tricksters in Cuban and Brazilian Spirit Mediumship Practices

Diana Espírito Santo

In this article, I explore how the cosmologies of two popular spirit possession cults—Espiritismo in Cuba and Umbanda in Brazil—exhibit forms of recursivity and self-reflexivity. Taking my cue from Don Handelman’s notion that the cosmos often contains its own logic of self-becoming, I argue that in these ethnographic cases, recursivity results from the interplay between, on the one hand, the spirits’ expression of their autonomy from living beings and, on the other, the spirits’ contingency for their effectiveness on human belief, representation, perception, and action. In Espiritismo and Umbanda, spirits intervene in human affairs unpredictably, throwing new light on anthropological and native conceptualizations of reflexivity.

Restricted access

Loyalty and Command

Shamans, Lamas, and Spirits in a Siberian Ritual

Galina Lindquist

This article considers a ritual of blessing the spirits of locality in Tuva, Southern Siberia, and compares the ways in which shamans and lamas perform it. The rituals are treated as pragmatic ways of attaining human ends rather than 'signifying practices' based on shared meanings, wherein practices create a certain version of reality. Ritual specialists and lay people share this social universe but differ in their positioning relative to various types of its inhabitants. In these conditions, it is suggested, it makes more sense to speak of bodily and emotional attitudes and styles of interpretation of signs than shared 'beliefs' as cognitive stances.

Restricted access

Maria Bucur

This article questions the claim that in Romania, the post-1990 period was one of radically greater freedom in religious matters, as well as greater religiosity on the part of the population. Instead, it suggests that continuity be er encapsulates the development of religiosity—religious beliefs and their embodiment in specific practices— among Orthodox Christians in Romania in the twentieth century. It also makes visible important imbalances, gaps, and faulty assumptions about the importance of institutions in the daily religious practices and beliefs of most Orthodox populations in the historiography on Orthodoxy in Romania. Scholars have failed to see continuities and have embraced analytical frameworks that stress change, especially around the communist takeover period (1945–1949) and the fall of communism (1989–1990). Central to re-evaluating this trajectory are two aspects of Orthodoxy in Romania: (1) most believers live in the countryside; and (2) women have remained central to the development and maintenance of religious practices in ways that cannot be accounted for through any institutional analysis of the Orthodox Church, because of its both implicit and explicit misogyny.

Free access

Ananya Chakravarti

The call to attend to a history of affect is hardly a new one in the profession: in 1941, in a classic essay entitled “La sensibilité et l’histoire: Comment reconstituer le vie affective d’autrefois?,” Lucien Febvre laid out an agenda for just such a historiographical turn. His reasoning, however, had less to do with the need for a history of affect per se than with the belief that the history of ideas or of institutions, both of them mainstays of traditional historiography, “are subjects that the historian can neither understand nor make understood without this primordial interest that I call the psychological.” In a perceptive review essay of the historiography of emotions that marked the beginning of the current affective turn in historical inquiry, Barbara Rosenwein argued that Febvre’s turn toward such a history was less a repudiation of the political focus of history than a belief born from observing the rise of Nazism: “politics itself is not rational, not unemotional.” As Rosenwein notes, Febvre answered the skeptics in his own essay: “The history of hate, the history of fear, the history of cruelty, the history of love; stop bothering us with this idle chatter. But that idle chatter … will tomorrow have turned the universe into a fetid pile of corpses.”

Restricted access

Debate

In Response to Charlie

Faisal Devji, Jane Garnett, Ghassan Hage and Sondra L. Hausner

There is a close relation between satire and secularism as the latter came to emerge in Europe. Secularism, as is well-known, gained strength historically as a reaction to an era of European interreligious violence and massacres. It was not only a desire for the separation of church and state, as the classical formula has it. It was also an attempt to keep religious affect out of politics. This was in the belief that religion, because it is faith rather than reasoned thinking, produces too much of a narcissistic affect—that the faithful are unable to ‘keep their distance’ from what they believe in. It was thought that this narcissism was behind the murderous intensity of religiously driven conflicts. Being able to laugh at yourself literally means being able to not take yourself overly seriously. This, in turn, is crucial for the deintensification of the affects generated by the defense of what one believes in and for the relativization of one’s personal beliefs. Such relativization, as Claude Lévi- Strauss argued, is crucial for thinking oneself comparatively and in relation to others (the opposite of narcissism).

Restricted access

Jeanette Winterson's Family Values

From Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit to Lighthousekeeping

Julie Ellam

Jeanette Winterson's fictional families are unusual. Invariably the adopted or fostered child is used as a narrator. This offers the perspective that nurtured relationships are as emotionally bonding as natural ones. The traditional, biological family is, at times, used in order to be exposed as brutal and false, as in Art and Lies (1994) where Picasso is sexually abused by her brother and is the product of rape between her father and a maid. Winterson's novels appear to challenge the biological family. Furthermore, adultery is used as a repeated theme. From Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1985) onwards, marriage is described as an institution and is castigated, whereas the belief in true love hardly ever wavers. That Winterson continues to draw on the family, however it is constituted, reflects an ongoing concern with the bonds of love. It is this belief in love that reveals a paradoxical fidelity to a conservative stance which is elsewhere, through the critiques of family and marriage, apparently questioned.

Restricted access

Sophie Meunier

Why do the French appear as incorrigible anti-Americans? Why is France singled out as a bastion of systematic opposition to US policies? Anti-Americanism can be defined as an unfavorable predisposition towards the United States, which leads individuals to interpret American actions through pre-existing views and negative stereotypes, irrespectively of the facts. It is based on a belief that there is something fundamentally wrong at the essence of what is America. This unfavorable predisposition manifests itself in beliefs, attitudes and rhetoric, which may or may not affect political behavior. Is France, according to this definition, anti-American? It is difficult in practice to distinguish between genuine anti-Americanism (disposition) and genuine criticism of the United States (opinion). It is partly because of this definitional ambiguity that France appears more anti-American than its European partners. While it is not clear that the French have a stronger negative predisposition against the US, they do have stronger opinions about America for at least three main reasons: the deep reservoir of anti-American arguments accumulated over the centuries; the simultaneous coexistence of a variety of types of anti-Americanism; and the costless ways in which anti-Americanism has been used for political benefit. This article explores each of these three features in turn, before discussing briefly the consequences of French anti-Americanism on world politics.

Restricted access

Joel S. Kahn

In these remarks on race in Malaysia, I wish to engage the popularly held belief that racism in Malaysia is a legacy of colonialism. I will instead address the way racializing beliefs and practices in the Malaysian context are better understood in the context of processes of modern state- and nation-building during the period of so-called organized modernity, processes that were at work in both colonial and non-colonial settings. This explanation at the same time provides for a more effective resolution of what might otherwise appear to be a genuine paradox, namely, the fact that racism and anti-racism appear always to co-exist in the Malaysian context. I will deal with this sense of paradox historically by problematizing the most widely accepted explanation for the racialization of contemporary Malaysian society—that it is the legacy of Malaysia’s colonial past. Subjecting the argument for colonial exceptionalism to critical scrutiny clears the way for better explanations of the apparent persistence of racializing discourses and practices in post-colonial conditions, at the same time casting doubt on the effectiveness of the kinds of universalizing anti-racist practices and movements that characterize our times.

Restricted access

Terence Etherton

The arrival from Russia of the Borrensteins, the Myers and the Maccobys in England in the 1890s and their life in the East End of London. Anti-semitism at the turn of the century, the Aliens Act 1905, and the change of name from Borrenstein to Etherton. Chaim Zundel Maccoby, the Kammenitzer Maggid. Jewish identity, the Race Relations Act 1976, and the judgments of the Supreme Court in the JFS case. The author’s Jewish ethnic, cultural and historical links. The incorporeality of the Almighty. The maintenance of faith in the face of the advance of science and human knowledge. The author’s homosexuality and his Jewish faith. The idea of Britishness, commitment to the rule of law and parliamentary democracy. The relationship between religion and religious beliefs and the rule of law. The development in Britain of the right to individual liberty and personal dignity. The author’s sense of Britishness. His coat of arms and motto – hineini.