developments in rethinking anthropological presumptions about spirit possession within Theravada Buddhist cultural formations. Given a range of initial anthropological assumptions about the nature of Theravada Buddhism as a historical, social, and cultural
Rethinking Anthropological Models of Spirit Possession and Theravada Buddhism
Questions of Agency and Self-deception as Refracted through the Art of Living with Spirits
The story of a young man from the Western Indian Ocean island of Mayotte who was prevented from a career in the French army by an illness sent by a spirit who possesses his mother inspires reﬂection on the nature of agency. I suggest that spirit possession and the ill- nesses it produces are intrinsically ironic. The prevalence of irony implies not that we should disregard agency but that perhaps we should not take it too literally.
The Multiple Agencies of Afro-Brazilian Religions
Roger Sansi and Luis Nicolau Parés
The debates on identity politics and the invention of tradition led the study of Afro-Brazilian religions to a certain impasse in the 1990s. However, in the last several years, the field has been totally renewed, although in different directions. In this article we will consider some of these new trends, from a wider historical engagement with the Atlantic world, through the religious field and the public sphere, to new approaches to spirit possession and cosmology. Our objective is to assess the extent to which these new debates have managed to overcome this impasse.
The self possessed: deity and spirit possession in South Asian literature and civilization by Smith, Frederick M.
Humpty Dumpty Populism
Theopolitics and the Retreat of the Politico-theological in Venezuela (and Elsewhere)
main pilgrimage centers of Sorte, Quiballo, and Aguas Blancas, located in adjacent mountains in the western Venezuelan state of Yaracuy. Amounting to a gigantic open-air theater of spirit possession, one of these sacred mountains was the site of my
So What Is the Anthropology of Buddhism About?
David N. Gellner
study of communalism and ethno-nationalism, Turek on emotion and charisma, and White with spirit possession. This collection of case studies provides a good overview of the range of work on Buddhism, both Mahāyāna and Theravāda, that is now being done
Recursivity and the Self-Reflexive Cosmos
Tricksters in Cuban and Brazilian Spirit Mediumship Practices
Diana Espírito Santo
-integrity moving outwards, driving into broader cosmic and social worlds” (ibid.). As with rituals and rites, many accounts of spirit ontologies have focused on the relationship between manifestations of spirit possession or shamanism and their social, historical
Demanding Deities and Reluctant Devotees
Belief and Unbelief in the Trinidadian Orisa Movement
Stephen D. Glazier
Belief and unbelief are major categories of Western thought. Some Trinidadians do not subscribe to the power of the Orisa, while many more (Spiritual Baptists, Pentecostals, and Protestant Fundamentalists) 'recognize' and 'acknowledge' the Orisa yet do not 'believe' that Orisa should be worshipped. By contrast, few Orisa devotees question the ontological and epistemological status of Orisa, who are part of their daily lives and play a central role in family interactions. By serving a particular Orisa, devotees delineate their own positions within the movement as well as their positions relative to others outside the movement. Serving the Orisa can be draining, and parents attempt to postpone initiation for as long as possible. This often engenders much interpersonal and religious conflict.
Understanding the Zār
An African-Iranian Healing Dance Ritual
William O. Beeman
This article explores the structure and meaning of the Zār ceremony as carried out throughout the Persian Gulf. This ceremony is mirrored by similar ones throughout North and East Africa, suggesting that the Zār may have resulted from cultural diffusion along historical trade routes. The Zār practitioners, the bābā and the māmā, must cultivate extensive skills in musical performance, movement and coordination in order to affect a palliative relief for persons affected by spirit ‘winds’ that inhabit them, causing physical and emotional distress. The Zār ceremony is an important method of non-allopathic treatment for emotional disorders that might elsewhere be treated through psychiatry in clinical settings. Practitioners see it as compatible with Islam, though not a strictly Islamic practice.
Zâr Beliefs and Practices in Bandar Abbâs and Qeshm Island in Iran
Maria Sabaye Moghaddam
Zâr denotes a class of spirits, the illness that they cause when descending upon a person and the ritual that is necessary to pacify the spirits and secure the alleviation of the patient's symptoms. The ritual involves holding a ceremony where incense, music and movement play a role in appeasing the Zâr to provide relief for the patient. This article, based on field studies carried out in 2007-2009, provides a current account of Zâr practices in Bandar Abbâs and Qeshm Island in Iran.