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People's Mic and democratic charisma

Occupy Wall Street's frontier assemblies

Chris Garces

The People's Mic is a new genre of political speech. In Occupy Wall Street (OWS) general assemblies, this tactile media for public deliberation was integral to embodying new political community across American cities in a globally oriented movement of the squares. Whether or not OWS has exemplified direct democracy per se, the People's Mic has cultivated new forms of democratic charisma between previously disaggregated constituencies-a “leaderful charisma“, with historical roots in pious American oratorical traditions (“hallowed speech“) and more recent movements for intercultural solidarity building (global justice, horizontalist, feminist, etc.). In this article, I signal how the People's Mic atavistically conjured and resembled the American town hall meeting in a contemporary and heterogeneous US frontier assembly. Before its strategic incapacitation, the Occupy movement's widespread use of People's Mic served to undermine the authority of private-public monopolies and to place a check on mounting police repression of urban space.

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The White Cotton Robe

Charisma and Clothes in Tibetan Buddhism Today

Magdalena Maria Turek

, I would classify charismatic Khampa lamas into two categories. In the first, charisma is routinized and institutionalized in the status of a reincarnate master or trülku (sprul sku). 1 The second category concerns individuals who climb the ladder

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Montenegro versus Crna Gora

The rival hagiographic genealogies of the new Montenegrin polity

Alice Forbess

This article examines how hero-ancestor-saints came to be drawn into contestations over heritage, economic assets, and ritual between two rival groups of Orthodox clerics and their political and entrepreneurial backers. After Montenegro's secession from Serbia (2006), pro- and anti-Serbian factions of the population have been mobilized under the banners of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) and of the recently formed Montenegrin Orthodox Church (MOC). As spheres of authority are being carved out in the new polity, competing political and sacred genealogies are used to articulate the nation's descent through earlier state projects in the region. This article examines how Orthodox notions of charisma and leadership intersect with the heroic traditions of highland clans and contemporary state processes to create specific forms of authority inscribed in divine kinship genealogies.

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Sons of Krishna and sons of Bolivar

Charismatic kinship and leadership across India and Venezuela

Lucia Michelutti

This article uses the analytical tool of divine kinship to explore political charisma across Indian and Venezuelan democratic social revolutions. In both contexts, charismatic elected political leaders build their image of strength and action on a wide repertoire of cultural and religious resources that are legitimated by divine kinship. The juxtaposition of the Indian and Venezuelan political ethnographies shows how charismatic kinship inflects lived understandings of popular sovereignty and opens up spaces for holding personality politics accountable.

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Gediminas Lankauskas

This article examines The Word of Faith, one of the largest congregations of "modern" charismatic Christians in post-Soviet Lithuania. The ethnographic focus is on the church's extensive network of trust, altruistic exchange, and sociability, known as bendravimas. These networks are theorized as a kind of civil society that allows its members to claim "ethical distinction" and enables them to take a critical stance toward the surrounding social milieu, perceived to be in moral disarray. The Word of Faith is discussed in relation to the national Catholic Church (its principal religious rival) and vis-à-vis broader Lithuanian society. The article suggests that it is concrete everyday practices deemed to be moral and civil, rather than abstract Christian precepts, that motivate Word of Faith believers to be "good people." It is also argued that such practices constitute important means for engendering and reproducing the charisma of this "modern" evangelical congregation.

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From the mouth of God

Divine kinship and popular democratic politics

Alice Forbess and Lucia Michelutti

This article proposes “divine kinship” as an analytical tool with which to explore the relation between the divine, “the people”, and their political leaders and advance an ethnographically led comparative anthropology of democracy. More specifically, using the political ethnographies of five localities—North India, Venezuela, Montenegro, Russia, and Nepal—we discuss lived understandings of popular sovereignty, electoral representation, and political hope. We argue that charismatic kinship is crucial to understanding the processes by which political leaders and elected representatives become the embodiment of “the people”, and highlight the processes through which “ordinary people” are transformed into “extraordinary people” with royal/divine/democratic qualities.

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Piroska Nagy

This essay focuses on a strange medieval phenomenon, the so-called gift of tears—religious weeping that brings beatitude. This internal purifying process, which was embedded in the specific conditions of historical Christianity, was described and understood as a procedure in which God himself acts and, therefore, as a process that human-kind cannot learn, formalize, or ritualize. However, the author analyzes religious weeping as a peculiar, `intimate ritual' in which the formalized process took place in the soul or spirituality of the weeping person. This essay aims to describe and analyze this practice while examining the historical conditions that enabled such a cultural elaboration to develop.

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Laura Verdi

In this article I will discuss the human body, both physical and social, as an instrument of political and aesthetic power and will analyze the processes of its social construction, starting with the notion of Corpus Mysticum Christi as the metaphoric organizational structure of consensus to power. From the Low Middle Ages to the present day, we will observe how the treatment of the body has evolved and how present-day show business and politics make use of charisma, from typically conceived 'concentrated stardom' to a conception of 'diffused stardom'. Both models are given aesthetic significance and rhetorical amplification, thus resulting in images of power and a means of social control. The conclusion of the article examines how power relations are currently being affected in a social environment that is highly influenced by the media and how, no matter which era is being discussed, the existence of the social body still depends on the physical body.

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Clay Clemens

As chair of the CDU in 2000, and of its joint Bundestag caucus with the CSU in 2002, Angela Merkel was the fist woman and fist easterner to head a major German party; she had risen as a protege of Helmut Kohl, but breaking with him over his financial improprieties vaulted her into power. These features of her biography made her leadership unconventional. So too did her style, characterized by interpersonal reserve and lack of charisma. Merkel's views on cultural issues and economic policy-in particular, reform of the welfare state-were more liberal than those of her Union's mainstream. Finally, her resources within the CDU/CSU were limited to a loose network of younger outsiders, who helped sustain her against rivals at the Land level. While Merkel survived a poor CDU/CSU election in 2005 to become chancellor, her time as opposition leader suggested that she would struggle in that role too, yet also served as a caution against underrating her.

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Introduction

One Hundred Years of Anthropology of Religion

Ramon Sarró, Simon Coleman, and Ruy Llera Blanes

One could say that in 2012 the scientific study of religion, particularly in its anthropological form, has become one hundred years old. In 1912, Durkheim published The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, perhaps the most influential book in the social study of religion, and certainly in the anthropology of religion, of the entire twentieth century. But this was not the only seminal work published around a century ago. A little earlier than that, in 1909, Arnold van Gennep’s Les rites de passage inaugurated an interest in liminality and ritual that has accompanied our discipline ever since. That same year, Marcel Mauss wrote La prière, an unfinished thesis that started an equally unfinished interest in prayer, one of the central devotional practices in many religions across the globe. In 1910, Lévy-Bruhl published his first explicitly anthropological book, How Natives Think, a problematic ancestor of a debate about rationality and modes of thought that has accompanied anthropology and philosophy ever since. In 1913, Freud tackled the then fashionable topic of totemism in his Totem and Taboo. Around those early years of the century, too, Max Weber was starting to write about charisma, secularization, and rationalization, topics of enduring interest.