With a focus on the Republic of Uzbekistan, this article aims to explain the enduring survival of the custom known as qalin (bride price, bride money), in spite of efforts to eliminate it in the past, and seeks to reveal the incomprehensible - even somewhat enigmatic - reasons for its present existence. Because this practice was burdensome for poor people, some attempts were made to abolish or replace it, for example, by having the bridegroom work instead of paying the qalin, by interchanging girls between two families or by having the bride's kinsmen cover the costs of the wedding. One custom even involved paying a qalin by instalments. As the article demonstrates, despite criticisms and its negative aspects, the qalin still has a place in the lives of Uzbeks.
The Example of Uzbekistan
Teaching the Female Body in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan
This chapter explores the process of reforming ‘refractory’ female bodies in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. It discusses the goals of the Midwives Training School in Omdurman and the methods of the British women who established it during the 1920s and 1930s in light of ethnographic data from the rural north. I suggest that while midwifery training had contradictory outcomes and failed to under- mine the logic that underpinned the practice of pharaonic (female) circumcision, some aspects of it became woven into the fabric of Sudanese daily life in unexpected ways. Parties to the colonizing venture looked, inescapably, in two directions at once: to the imme- diate situation in which they were mutually engaged, and to the respective cultural contexts of health from whence they came and in which they remained grounded.
The Contribution of Max Gluckman
Gluckman and the Manchester School pioneered approaches in anthropology that are now commonplace. But they were interested in achieving generalizations of both a local and more global kind. Their central methodology was that of situational analysis and extended-case analysis, which are examined here as attempts to make anthropology, via its ethnographic field method, a scientific discipline that opened out to novel ideas and theories concerning the human condition. This essay critically assesses the thinking that underpinned the methodology of situational analysis and suggests some areas of redirection. The overall idea is to impart some sense of the spirit that motivated various aspects of the Manchester innovation, especially the politics that gave it some coherence, and the wider importance of its directions that are occasionally overlooked in reflections on the history of social anthropology.
The Story of a New Ritual
Annette M. Boeckler
In recent years the usage of a goblet filled with water called cos miryam (Miriam's cup) during the Passover Seder has increased. This article shows that this custom had its origins in an evening in a Sukkah in Boston, was then soon used regularly at Havdalah ceremonies and finally found its way into the Seder. In recent years this new custom spread throughout Europe. The article depicts this development and also shows the different places and usages documented in published Haggadot of different denominations, and interprets these usages. As the origins and development of this new custom could be researched from its beginnings, this new Jewish ritual of Miriam's cup can serves as an example for the development of rituals in ritual studies in general.
Hans Marks, Małgorzata Możdżyńska-Nawotka, Ewa Ignaczak and Dorota Kolodziejczyk
Karen Armstrong, Remembering Karelia: a family’s story of displacement during and after the Finnish wars
Michael Carter, Fashion classics from Carlyle to Barthes
Halleh Ghorashi, Ways to survive, battles to win: Iranian women exiles in the Netherlands and the United States
Fred Inglis, Clifford Geertz: culture, custom and ethics
Runaway Brides, Orthodox Missionaries, and the Construction of Empire among the Buriats, 1870s–1917
Jesse D. Murray
This article revisits the trope of the runaway bride, a popular means of narrating the conversion to Orthodoxy of Buriat women during the nineteenth century that depicted women's conversions as pragmatic and lacking religious meaning. Using petitions and memoranda from church archives, Murray finds that encounters between Buriats and missionaries over the conversion and remarriage of Buriat women served as a powerful means of incorporating the Buriats into the Russian Empire by producing new, imperially shaped possibilities for Buriat self-definition. Women seeking conversion and remarriage utilized conceptions about women's individual rights within marriage based in discourses about marriage and patriarchy then widespread in central Russia. Men contesting the remarriage of wives and daughters treated Buriat custom as a formally sanctioned branch of imperial law, transforming flexible custom into codified, inflexible customary law.
Whereas questions of race, class and gender may be uppermost in the minds of many late twentieth-century scholars and critics, in the early modern period tradition and belief were the predominant preoccupations, in practical terms, custom and Christianity were inextricably intertwined within the changing culture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. An awareness of these past concerns motivates each of the seven articles in this issue, articles which re-examine literary and historical texts, not as past mirrors in which we might speculate upon our own particular preoccupations, but as sources of a more anthropological and spiritual history.
Edward A. Tiryakian
On 2 April 2009 a well-publicized Summit meeting of the Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, more commonly known as the G-20, was held at London’s ExCel Centre in Custom House to discuss the great crisis facing the world’s weakened financial system and to propose, among other things, regulation to prevent systemic risks.1 The meeting was well attended by finance ministers, central bankers and hordes of reporters who gleefully reported as much on the protestors of disparate groups as on the accomplishments of the meeting.
Whereas the Purim custom established in Judaism offers an annual space not only to celebrate but also to reflect the task assigned by the Book of Esther to remember what is told about Esther, Mordechai, their people and the existential threat they faced, no such tradition developed on the Christian side. By presenting three different Christian Esther readings stemming from different times, this article seeks to demonstrate that fulfilling the task to remember for Christians must not just imply a serious interest in the literary richness of the story, but also a clear idea about problematic ways of reading.
Local Knowledge and Universal Claims
In Vanuatu, where the revival of kastom (custom) has been pivotal in defining postcolonial identity, articulations of feminism(s) are offen met with ambivalence. The tension between discourses of individual rights and collective obligations and the tension between universal ideas of women's rights and local cultural practices such as kastom must be confronted. An engaged feminist anthropology, I argue, resists singular accounts of modernity by locating local knowledge and kastomary practices within a larger context that unsettles the boundaries of local and universal. Disentangling the ways in which contemporary critiques of kastom resonate with missionary and colonial representations of Melanesian violence and drawing attention to the structural violence of everyday life are also important tasks. Invoking the concepts of 'modest witness' and 'situated knowledge', I discuss what Strathern (1987) has called the 'awkward relationship' between anthropology and feminism and consider the possibilities of an engaged feminist anthropology.