The Chamorro people inhabit an archipelago known as the Mariana Islands located in the western Pacific Ocean. Seventeenth-century Chamorros took ancestral skulls into warfare against the Spanish in the period of the Spanish conquest. The possession of such skulls manifested profound symbolic power. In the aftermath of the war, the survivors converted to Catholicism, amalgamating their ancient religious practices with that faith. Resistance through the centuries against Spanish, Japanese, and American colonial power has been anchored in Chamorro cultural continuity, albeit in an ostensibly fragmented and augmented form. A site of strategic US military bases, Guam now anticipates further military build-up. War magic and warrior religion are lenses that enable the study of colonial domination where the battle lines fault across military, economic, and political frames toward cultural fronts.
Chamorro Spiritual Resistance to Colonial Domination
D. S. Farrer and James D. Sellmann
A Black Tiger Rite of Commemoration
Since Weber's time, it has been believed that 'enchantment' progressively gave way to secular rationalism and its disenchanted ways. This essay breaks the twinning of enchantment with 'irrationality' in developing the argument that enchanted practices and pragmatic methods co-exist fruitfully in the activities of the LTTE. Circumstantial evidence, arising from pictures and descriptions of hero rituals sponsored by the LTTE, provides the foundation for this argument. It is suggested that the Saivite universe of being has nourished these symbolic compositions. A photograph of Black Tigers paying homage to their dead with guns in the left hand and flowers in the right provides a condensed demonstration as well as a point of departure for this suggestion. It is a moment of conjunctiveness that has the potential to fuse past, present, and future, thus achieving 'fusion force'.
Through an examination of Henry Miller’s account of his journey to Greece in 1939, as expressed in his travel book The Colossus of Maroussi, this article examines the image of this country his writing presents. Miller’s description of people, places, and environment is infused with a mystical, spiritual element, as if something magical emanates from the cultural environment of this country and tints the landscape and its inhabitants, adding an atemporal dreamlike qual- ity. The group of literati Miller befriended during his five-month stay in Greece viewed Greek art, culture, and history in an archetypal way, which blends well with Miller’s approach. This analysis of the enchanted world Miller claims to have met and experienced during his journey could thus possibly acquire further significance through tentatively relating it to the way contemporary Greeks may experience aspects of their culture and their Greekness.
Seeing and the Study of Religion
Opening with a review of leading accounts of the image as an object with agency, this article proposes to study religious images within the webs or networks that endow them with agency. The example of a well-known medieval reliquary serves to show how what I refer to as 'focal objects' participate in the creation of assemblages that engage human and non-human actors in the social construction of the sacred. Focal objects are nodal points that act as interfaces with the network, particularly with invisible agents within it. As participants in a network, images are like masks, offering access to what looks through the mask at viewers engaged in a complex of relations that constructs a visual field or the ecology of an image.
Hamish Fulton’s Cairngorm Walk-Texts
The purpose of this article is to consider walking artist Hamish Fulton’s ‘walk-texts’ as ethical responses to the environment. In light of the environmental crisis that manifests in the proposed stratigraphic designation ‘Anthropocene’, Jane Bennett’s writing on enchantment offers a direction for thinking about how an ecologically ethical sensibility might be cultivated. Fulton’s communicative response to his walking art, I argue, embodies the discernment of ‘things in their sensuous singularity’ that Bennett identifies as a key attribute of enchantment. Yet, in his own writing on his art practice, the walk-texts are conceived as secondary – a necessary counterpart to walking as an experiential activity. By honing in on two recurring strategies we find in Fulton’s Cairngorm walk-texts – the list and the return – I argue that his work offers a linguistic mode that holds great potential for tuning us to environmental ethics in the Anthropocene.
The Promise and Pitfalls of Ecotourism as a Manifold Capitalist Fix
Robert Fletcher and Katja Neves
This article reviews an interdisciplinary literature exploring the relationship between tourism and capitalism focused on ecotourism in particular. One of this literature's most salient features is to highlight ecotourism's function in employing capitalist mechanisms to address problems of capitalist development itself by attempting to resolve a series of contradictions intrinsic to the accumulation process, including: economic stagnation due to overaccumulation (time/space x); growing inequality and social unrest (social x); limitations on capital accumulation resulting from ecological degradation (environmental x); a widespread sense of alienation between humans and nonhuman natures; and a loss of “enchantment“ due to capitalist rationalization. Hence, widespread advocacy of ecotourism as a “panacea“ for diverse social and environmental ills can be interpreted as an implicit endorsement of its potential as a manifold capitalist x as well. The article concludes by outlining a number of possible directions for future research suggested by this review.
Cross-Cultural Articulations of War Magic and Warrior Religion
D. S. Farrer
Previous anthropology emphasized symbolic incantations at the expense of the embodied practice of magic. Foregrounding embodiment and performance in war magic and warrior religion collapses the mind-body dualism of magic versus rationality, instead highlighting social action, innovation, and the revitalization of tradition, as tempered historically by colonial and post-colonial trajectories in societies undergoing rapid social transformation. Religion and magic are re-evaluated from the perspective of the practitioner's and the victim's embodiment in their experiential life-worlds via articles discussing Chinese exorcists, Javanese spirit siblings, Sumatran black magic, Tamil Tiger suicide bombers, Chamorro spiritual re-enchantment, tantric Buddhist war magic, and Yanomami dark shamans. Central themes include violence and healing, accomplished through ritual and performance, to unleash and/or control the power of gods, demons, ghosts and the dead.
Tantric Principles in Tamil Tiger Instrumentalities
This study highlights the Tantric threads within the transcendental religions of Asia that reveal the commanding role of encirclement as a mystical force. The cyanide capsule (kuppi) around the neck of every Tamil Tiger fighter was not only a tool of instrumental rationality as a binding force, but also a modality similar to a thāli (marriage bond necklace) and to participation in a velvi (religious animal sacrifice). It was thus embedded within Tamil cultural practice. Alongside the LTTE's politics of homage to its māvīrar (dead heroes), the kuppi sits beside numerous incidents in LTTE acts of mobilization or military actions where key functionaries approached deities in thanks or in preparation for the kill. These practices highlight the inventive potential of liminal moments/spaces. We see this as modernized 'war magic'—a hybrid re-enchantment energizing a specific religious worldview.
The Work of Anti-wonder among Sufi Reformists and Traditionalists in a Macedonian Roma Neighborhood
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.
Raven Narratives and the Anthropocene
Thomas F. Thornton and Patricia M. Thornton
The Anthropocene is rooted in the proposition that human activity has disrupted earth systems to the extent that it has caused us to enter a new geological age. We identify three popular discourses of what the Anthropocene means for humanity's future: the Moral Jeremiad admonishes the transgression of planetary boundaries and advocates reductions to live sustainably within Earth's limits; the Technofix Earth Engineer approach depicts the Age of Humanity as an engineering opportunity to be met with innovative technological solutions to offset negative impacts; and the New Genesis discourse advocates re-enchantment of humanity's connections to earth. By contrast, we find that in many indigenous and premodern narratives and myths disseminated across the North Pacific and East Asia, it is the trickster-demiurge Raven that is most closely linked to environmental change and adaptation. Whereas Raven tales among northern Pacific indigenous communities emphasize a moral ecology of interdependence, creative adaptation, and resilience through practical knowledge (mētis), robustly centralizing Zhou Dynasty elites transposed early Chinese Raven trickster myths with tales lauding the human subjugation of nature. Raven and his fate across the northern Pacific reminds us that narratives of environmental crisis, as opposed to narratives of environmental change, legitimate attempts to invest power and authority in the hands of elites, and justify their commandeering of technological xes in the name of salvation.