The point of departure for this article is a description of punitive practices reported to have been employed in Achaemenian Persia around 400 BCE. On closer examination, what appears to be an example of sadistic torture proves to be a judiciary ordeal constructed in such a way as to convert the accused's body (and bodily processes) into conclusive evidence of his guilt and, simultaneously, to confirm imperial ideology. This episode provides the basis for reconsidering events at Abu Ghraib prison, where, it is argued, low-level American GIs obsessively enacted a finite set of scenarios in a desperate attempt to make their captives' bodies confirm arguments used to justify the war in Iraq as a struggle against low, dark, craven, perverse, and corrupt beings dismissable as 'terrorists'.
Landmark anthropological works on fame have shown that gift-giving is often the vehicle for producing relations of 'positive value' and recognition. When viewing fame against the related notion of fortune, however, the focal point of study shifts to how people produce reputations that are 'beyond value' or 'priceless'. This article proposes that the Nuosu of Southwest China enter into an ongoing 'economy of ordeals' in order to accumulate priceless 'tokens of value' that increase their 'fate-fortune' and fame. It shows that ambitious Nuosu accept new ordeals to achieve fame, while comfortably viewing their accomplishments as akin to those of a predatory spider. Tellingly, though, these efforts are vulnerable to the counter-extractive maneuvers of other people and ghosts, which present the Nuosu with new ordeals that could deplete their resources.
Prisoners of War and Society in Iraq, 1988–2007
This is the first study of Iraqi POWs (prisoners of war) of the Iran-Iraq War and their relations with Iraqi society when they were absent and upon their return. The most significant factor affecting those relations was the exceptionally long duration of imprisonment: 8 to 10 years on average. By using novels and memoirs written by the prisoners reflecting on their prison experience, this article will try to unravel how Iraqi POWs perceived their ordeal and how they were influenced by dominant social values. Societal attitudes are also analysed through novels and short stories by some of Iraq's leading authors, in which the returning POW is the main subject.
Todd Gitlin and Liel Leibovitz, The Chosen Peoples: America, Israel, and the Ordeals of Divine Election Review by Kenneth Waltzer
Reuven Shapira, Transforming Kibbutz Research: Trust and Moral Leadership in the Rise and Decline of Democratic Cultures Review by Julia Chaitin
Baruch Gilead, ed., Documents of the Foreign Policy of Israel, vol. 11, January–October 1956
Nana Sagi ed., Documents of the Foreign Policy of Israel, vol. 12, The Sinai Campaign: The Political Struggle, October 1956–March 1957 Review by Motti Golani
David De Vries, Diamonds and War: State, Capital, and Labor in British-Ruled Palestine Review by Kenneth Stammerman
The Great War in the EC Comics
The U.S. publisher EC Comics produced several war comics between 1950 and 1955. These comic books, especially the issues published during Harvey Kurtzman's editorship, are still considered masterpieces, as rare examples of war comics attempting to present an unvarnished account of the ordeals of war. This article focuses on the treatment of the Great War in comics. While current stories about the First World War usually underline its inhuman realities for the soldiers, the EC stories offered a more ambivalent representation. The now traditional stories of trenches and suffering infantry soldiers were counterbalanced by stories of heroic air fights and chivalrous aces. This approach towards the First World War as a 'noble war' progressively increased during the run of these comics, refl ecting the shifting balance that characterised the production of EC war comics: that between the constraints of the market, artistic ambition and the popular cultural mythology of air aces.
This article traces the connections between death and the afterlife as configured through the Malay martial art silat in Malaysia, Singapore, and the Riau Archipelago. The practice and performance of silat are addressed here through aspects of non-material and material culture, including ritual, dance, jewelry, symbols, and art. Silat is designed to transform physically and spiritually the silat practitioner and to remove the fear of death and dying. This transformation is partly accomplished by summoning (berseru) the shadows of the 'potent dead'. However, the contemporary medicalization of death may preclude the possibility of a 'noble death'. To illustrate the disjuncture of 'deathscapes', I compare the agonizing death of a silat master to the cemetery ordeal of his son.
Moving Relations, Patterned Effusions
François Berthomé and Michael Houseman
This article reconsiders the connection between 'ritual' and 'emotion' from a pragmatic, relational perspective in which rituals are seen as dynamic interactive contexts and emotions as fairly short-lived emergent properties and integral components of these interactions. It emphasizes ritual's capacity to reallocate social positions by instantiating characteristic patterns of relationship, and the way particular emotions crystallize and express these patterns. In short, ritual emotions are treated as the sensate qualities of ritual relationships. From this standpoint, emotions feature in ceremonial settings not as striking experiences grafted onto practices and representations, but as constitutive aspects of ritual interactions themselves, whose properties of bodily salience and relational reflexivity both reflect and inflect the latter's course in a variety of sensory, expressive, moral, and strategic ways. Four issues relating to ritual and emotion are discussed within the framework of particular ceremonial practices that have been the object of much recent research: (1) the ritual expression of emotions in funerary laments, (2) the waning of cathartic models in the interpretation of rites of affliction, (3) the intense emotional arousal characteristic of initiatory ordeals, and (4) the self-constructive, affective dimensions of contemporary devotional practices.