Anthropology has, among its many accomplishments, become a ‘hyper-reflexive’ discipline that is mastered by anthropologists and their fieldwork friends. Today’s China offers an especially revealing lens onto anthropological reflexivity as it reintroduces animism among ethnic minorities and mobilizes a cosmological-cum-ecological ethos, replete with soul-searching and planet-saving behaviors. This article presents ethnography on the Nuosu of Southwest China, who use the ‘art of capture’ to reinvent local animistic ideas and the Chinese ‘ideology of animism’. In dialogue with a Nuosu ethnologist, rural Nuosu villagers, and a Nuosu anthropologist, I propose that ‘hidden’ knowledge and jokes underpin the expositions of native scholars, who interlace their academic work with local rituals. In this way, Nuosu academics, foreign anthropologists, and villagers all partake in the reinvention of Nuosu animism.
Hidden Jokes and the Reinvention of Animistic Ontologies in Southwest China
Shamanic Sickness, Spirit Embodiment, and Fragmentary Trancescape in Contemporary Buriat Shamanism
During fieldwork on a contemporary revival of shamanism in Buriatiia in the summer of 2005, I was initially puzzled by what I had witnessed. The spirits that were embodied by the shamans were interacting with the audience. Afterward, the shamans did not remember what had occurred while they were in trance. To me, it resembled what has been described as spirit-mediumship performance. While discussing this with shamans, their initial response was that Buriat shamanism is real shamanism, insisting that authentic trance is unconscious, while at the same time dismissing other forms as fake. Later, however, some quietly admitted that Buriat shamans used to be able to remember their ecstatic journeys, and eventually they will be able to regain this ability. I argue that the post-trance amnesia among the contemporary Buriat neo-shamans is the result of the disruption caused by the Soviet anti-religious legacy, which inhibited Buriats to progress to higher degrees of initiation.
Magic, Sorcery, and Warrior Shamanism in Venezuela
In the area of the Upper Orinoco River in Venezuela, Yanomami shapori (shamans) engage in hostile acts against their colleagues and people (especially children) living in distant villages in order to inflict misery and death. These combative magical practices are primarily motivated by retribution for past assaults of a similar kind. While in most cases the shapori perform these activities intentionally, this article argues that the malevolent non-human acts are also driven by the cannibalistic nature of hekura spirits, which demand human souls. In this way, although shapori intentionally engage in bellicose activities, they must sometimes kill in order to appease the ancestral spirits and thus spare the lives of their own kin. This article focuses on the dark side of Yanomami shamanistic practices in order to counterbalance tendencies that emphasize the more positive, therapeutic aspects of shamanism, namely, its socially integrative roles.
How do we take indigenous animism seriously in the sense proposed by Viveiros de Castro? In this article, I pose this challenge to all the major theories of animism, stretching from Tylor and Durkheim, over Lévi-Strauss to Ingold. I then go on to draw a comparison between Žižek's depiction of the cynical milieu of advanced capitalism in which ideology as “false consciousness” has lost force and the Siberian Yukaghirs for whom ridiculing the spirits is integral to their game of hunting. Both know that, in their activity, they are following an illusion, but still they go along with it; both are ironically self-conscious about not taking the ruling ethos at face value. This makes me suggest an alternative: perhaps it is time for anthropology not to take indigenous animism too seriously.
Richard Poole, Anne Stevenson, Barry Cole and Linda Kemp
The Three Wise Monkeys RICHARD POOLE
Who’s Joking with the Photographer? ANNE STEVENSON
Samuel Locke of Boston BARRY COLE
Enchantment of Mina Loy LINDA KEMP
Linda Woodhead, James T. Richardson, Martyn Percy, Catherine Wessinger and Eileen Barker
I wish I had been present at the 1993 annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR) when Professor Eileen Barker delivered her subversive presidential address: “The Scientific Study of Religion? You Must Be Joking!” I imagine that not all audience members were delighted. The address lives up to its billing, driving a cart and horses through pervasive positivistic assumptions in the study of religion and ushering in a very different approach. I will not pretend that it changed my life the first time I read it, but I have gone back to it time and again, and it continues to illuminate and inspire.
Illegal yet licit purchases of work in contemporary Sweden
Lotta Björklund Larsen
This article explores the tensions between buying and bartering a ser vice in contemporary Sweden by analyzing the acceptable purchase of svart arbete -informal exchanges of work. It is a commonplace phenomenon, but also widely debated, as it is seen as detrimental to welfare society, eroding taxpaying morals and solidarity with fellow citizens. Settling the svart deal with money makes the links to market and state domains more pertinent. Even cash-settled deals are therefore often referred to as barters to create a reverse disentanglement, away from the formal market and moved closer to the realm of social exchanges. The informants express a verbal creativity in a joking manner. Exploring synonyms and metaphors reveals the informality, but the talk also shows that, as exchanges, they are part of everyday life. The article thus describes how illegal yet licit exchanges of work are articulated.
Sarah Michelle Stohlman, Alice Szczepaniková, Ewa Ignaczak, Oane Visser, Peter Scholliers, Sjaak van der Geest, Hans Vermeulen, Tomasz Płonka, Jaap TImmer and Oscar Salemink
Sarah Ahmed, Claudia Castañeda, Anne-Marie Fortier, and Mimi Sheller (eds.), Uprootings/regroundings: questions of home and migration
Susanne Binder and Jelena Tošič (eds.), Refugee studies and politics: human dimensions and research perspectives, and Philomena Essed, Georg Frerks, and Joke Schrijvers (eds.), Refugees and the transformation of societies: agency, policies, ethics and politics
Paul John Eakin (ed.), The ethics of life writing
Chris Hann and the ‘Property Relations’ group, The postsocialist agrarian question: property relations and the rural condition
Anne J. Kershen (ed.), Food in the migrant experience
Michael Lambek and Paul Antze (eds.), Illness and irony: on the ambiguity of suffering in culture
Cristóbal Mendoza, Labour immigration in Southern Europe: African employment in Iberian labour markets
Thomas Carl Patterson, Marx’s ghost: conversations with archaeologists
Adam Reed, Papua New Guinea’s last place: experiences of constraint in a postcolonial prison
Shinji Yamashita and J. S. Eades (eds.), Globalization in Southeast Asia: local, national and transnational perspectives
Subversive Virtual Fraternity in the Israeli Men's Magazine Blazer
Steven Fraiberg and Danny Kaplan
This article examines the reconstruction of a virtual Israeli male fraternity in Israel's only men's lifestyle magazine, Blazer. Modeled after the global 'new lad' magazine format, the Blazer text engages its readers by forging a homosocial joking relationship. Focusing on a satire dedicated to Israel's Independence Day, this study delineates a series of parodic discursive practices employed by the narrators to deconstruct and appropriate traditional Zionist myths on which Israel was founded. The Blazer text thus mobilizes a key cultural trope known as the anti-freier frame (to avoid being a 'sucker'), implemented as a set of manipulations to outsmart the system. The Blazer text rearticulates the relationship between self and society based on a local version of the 'yuppie' value system. We argue that while this frame appears to reject collectivist values, it serves as a critical lens for connecting yuppie masculinity with its Sabra predecessor, thereby consolidating a modified form of national solidarity.
Politics, Editorial Cartoons and Bande dessinée in the French Satirical Newspaper Charlie hebdo
The weekly French satirical newspaper, Charlie hebdo, which originally ran from 1969 to 1982, pending a revival in 1992, distinguishes itself through its bête et méchant ['stupid and nasty'] humorous heritage, defined in its parent publication, Hara-Kiri, as the freedom to make jokes on potentially any subject, however taboo. Whilst this satirical ethos predominated in Charlie hebdo up to 1982, its enduring place in the publication has become more ambiguous since 1992, with the abrupt sacking of Siné in July 2008 seemingly belying its vigorous defence of provocative humour in the context of the 2006 Danish caricature affair. An important underlying continuity nonetheless remains in Charlie hebdo and transcends the bête et méchant project: that of negotiating a space for satirical expression that has continuously engaged with both elements of bande dessinée and the rich French tradition of polemical editorial cartooning and caricature.