A plausible reading by Joel Robbins of Louis Dumont as a value pluralist serves as the point of departure for this article. The value discrepancies in focus here are two fundamentally different ideological constructs. One manifests as a social organization characterized by hereditary rank based on notions of purity. The other echoes notions of a more egalitarian social order. The first is rooted in the cosmo-mythical past, the second in a much more recent discourse. The social organization premised on rank and purity is rapidly losing ground—in part due to the influence of ‘the modern’, but even more so because its internal logic works against it. Empirically, the article centers on a complex ritual in which the opposing values are triggered, producing profound emotional turmoil.
Rank Infraction among the Ngadha in Flores, Indonesia
Olaf H. Smedal
This research report gives an ethnographic account of libations and ritual offerings in the shamanic culture of contemporary Western Buriats. Common ritual motifs are identified between libations in everyday practice, annual rites at the family hearth, and large-scale tailgan rituals. It is suggested that such practices mediate reciprocity between neighbors and reconstitute obligations of mutual help within kin groups. Finally, it is proposed that the vitality of the ritual complex today lies in its fundamental articulation of the principles of reciprocity and belonging in the context of rapid out-migration from the region and the atomization of kin groups.
Aidarbek Sulaimankulovich Kochkunov
This article is an ethnographic exploration of three topics regarding the practice of religion in contemporary Kyrgyzstan that provides insights into the spiritual life of Kyrgyz people in local communities. The topics are features of religiosity as expressed in rituals, the nature of personal and shared beliefs inherent in the performance of ceremonies, and the influence of religious identity on relationships among family, kin groups and communities. Through extensive research about religion and ritual in various areas of Kyrgyzstan, changes over time are examined. Although at times the differences among people adhering to more traditional versus the more newly emerging Islamic approaches to death ceremonies and monuments may cause conflict among relatives, in general such rituals and markers provide opportunities for social integration and common identity.