Monographs and Edited Volumes

Table of contents


Clémence Jullien: Du bidonville à l'hôpital. Nouveaux enjeux de la maternité au Rajasthan. Paris: Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l'homme 2019

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La santé de la reproduction constitue un sujet d'inquiétude d’actualité en Inde : les taux de mortalité sont encore élevés, les pratiques d’avortements sélectifs féminins se poursuivent et l’accroissement démographique reste difficile à juguler. L’ouvrage suit l’anthropologue, des bidonvilles – où une ONG œuvre à la santé materno-infantile – à un hôpital public de la ville de Jaipur, au Rajasthan. À partir d’une enquête ethnographique de près d’un an et demi, l’auteure montre en quoi les programmes de santé censés garantir l’accès aux soins obstétriques renforcent les stéréotypes et les inégalités socio-économiques qui pèsent sur les bénéficiaires les plus vulnérables. Au croisement d’enjeux politiques, démographiques et socioreligieux, la santé de la reproduction apparaît comme un domaine éminemment sensible et politisé qui cristallise les tensions sociales (classe, caste) et le communautarisme hindou-musulman, au nom du progrès et des intérêts de la nation.

Parution livre-Du bidonville à l'hôpital (PDF, 266 KB)

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Emilia Roza Sulek: Trading Caterpillar Fungus in Tibet. When Economic Boom Hits Rural Area. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press 2019

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When the demand for, and prices of caterpillar fungus (Ophiocordyceps sinensis, ‘the Himalayan Viagra’, long a part of traditional Chinese medicine) soared, the pastoralists of Golok on the Tibetan plateau where the fungus is endemic dug up, dried and sold the fungus to traders. In the process, these yak and sheep farmers, used to living on the edge of subsistence, became wealthy beyond their imagination. Trading Caterpillar Fungus in Tibet: When Economic Boom Hits Rural Area tells the story of what they do with the money they earned from gathering and trading caterpillar fungus, and what this money does to them, revealing a sophistication few outsiders would credit them for.

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Johannes Quack, Cora Schuh and Susanne Kind: The Diversity of Nonreligion. Normativities and Contested Relations. London and New York: Routledge 2019

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This book explores the relational dynamic of religious and nonreligious positions as well as the tensions between competing modes of nonreligion. Across the globe, individuals and communities are seeking to distinguish themselves in different ways from religion as they take on an identity unaffiliated to any particular faith. The resulting diversity of nonreligion has until recently been largely ignored in academia.

Conceptually, the book advances a relational approach to nonreligion, which is inspired by Pierre Bourdieu’s field theory. It also offers further analytical distinctions that help to identify and delineate different modes of nonreligion with respect to actors’ values, objectives, and their relations with relevant religious others. The significance of this conceptual frame is illustrated by three empirical studies, on organized humanism in Sweden, atheism and freethought in the Philippines, and secular politics in the Netherlands. These studies analyze the normativities and changing positions of different groups against the background of both institutionalized religious practice and changing religious fields more generally.

This is a fascinating exploration of how nonreligion and secularities are developing across the world. It complements existing approaches to the study of religion, secularity, and secularism and will, therefore, be of great value to scholars of religious studies as well as the anthropology, history, and sociology of religion more generally.

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Georg Winterberger and Esther Tenberg (Eds.): Current Myanmar Studies. Aung San Suu Kyi, Muslims in Arakan, and Economic Insecurity. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2019

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Myanmar shifted into the centre of international attention in 2011, when the new civilian government took over. Enormous media scrutiny began in 2017 and 2018 after the outbreak of violence between Muslim and Buddhist population groups. This book brings together papers presented at the Myanmar Conference 2017, the annual gathering of German-speaking Myanmar scholars. It contains articles concerned with the major issues currently facing development in Myanmar. Topics explored here include Muslims in Arakan (widely known as Rohingya) and how they became foreigners in Myanmar; the economic perspective of everyday life on one side and governmental planning on the other side; Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of the country, and the various challenges she faces as a female politician; and an ethnographic note on how textile production can look in the hinterland of Shan State.

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Clémence Jullien, Bertrand Lefebvre & Fabien Provost eds.: Hospitals in South Asia. Health Policies, Care Practices. Paris: EHESS, Purushartha 2019

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By bringing together researchers from different disciplines (social anthropology, geography, psychology, sociology), this volume presents an up-to-date panorama of the transformations that hospitals in South Asia have undergone, drawing on the plurality of practices, norms and care facilities that are specific to this region.

From maternity and childcare to psychiatry, from the public to the private sector, from India to Pakistan, the different contributions reflect the emergence of new aspirations among patients and caregivers. While identifying the development of innovative standards and practices in hospitals, these contributions show how the relationship between caregivers and patients has been reconfigured.

Given the multiplicity of the fields presented, this volume is also an opportunity to examine more broadly the transformations in the role of the State, the persistence of social, religious and inter-caste tensions, and lastly the circulation of health care models between global and local.

Table of contents

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Rivka Syd Eisner: Performing Remembering: Women's Memories of War in Vietnam. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan/Springer 2018

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This book explores the performances and politics of memory among a group of women war veterans in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Through ethnographic, oral history-based research, it connects the veterans’ wartime histories, memory politics, performance practices, recollections of imprisonment and torture, and social activism with broader questions of how to understand and attend to continuing transgenerational violence and trauma. With an extensive introduction and subsequent chapters devoted to in-depth analysis of four women’s remarkable life stories, the book explores the performance and performativity of culture; ethnographic oral history practice; personal, collective, and (trans)cultural memory; and the politics of postwar trauma, witnessing, and redress. Through the veterans’ dynamic practices of prospective remembering, 'pain-taking', and enduring optimism, it offers new insights into matrices of performance vital to the shared work of social transformation. It will appeal to readers interested in performance studies, memory studies, gender studies, Vietnamese studies, and oral history.

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Olivia Killias: Follow the Maid. Domestic Worker Migration in and from Indonesia. Copenhagen, NIAS Press 2018

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This fascinating study unveils the workings of the Indonesian migration regime, one that sends hundreds of thousands of women abroad as domestic workers each year. Drawing on extended ethnographic research since 2007, the book literally follows migrant women from a matrilocal village in upland Central Java, women who actively place themselves in a position to enter the migration pipeline, knowing that their lives abroad will be hard and even dangerous, and that staying in the village is an option. From recruitment by local brokers to the ‘training’ received in secluded camps in Jakarta, employment in gated middle-class homes within Indonesia and in Malaysia and back home again, Olivia Killias tracks the moral, social, economic and legal processes by which women are turned into ‘maids’. The author’s analysis uncovers the colonial genealogies of contemporary domestic worker migration and demonstrates that, ironically, the legalization of the migration industry does not automatically improve the situation of the women in its care. Rather, Killias unmasks the gendered moralizing discourses on ‘illegal’ migration and ‘trafficking’ as legitimizing indentured labour and constraining migrant mobility. By exploring the workings of the Indonesian state’s overseas legal labour migration regime for migrants, she brings the reader directly into the nerve-racking lives of migrant village women, and reveals the richness and ambiguity of their experiences, going beyond stereotypical representations of them as ‘victims of trafficking’.

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Stefan Leins: Stories of Capitalism: Inside the Role of Financial Analysts. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press 2018

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The financial crisis and the recession that followed caught many people off guard, including experts in the financial sector whose jobs involve predicting market fluctuations. Financial analysis offices in most international banks are supposed to forecast the rise or fall of stock prices, the success or failure of investment products, and even the growth or decline of entire national economies. And yet their predictions are heavily disputed. How do they make their forecasts—and do those forecasts have any actual value?

Building on recent developments in the social studies of finance, Stories of Capitalism provides the first ethnography of financial analysis. Drawing on two years of fieldwork in a Swiss bank, Stefan Leins argues that financial analysts construct stories of possible economic futures, presenting them as coherent and grounded in expert research and analysis. In so doing, they establish a role for themselves—not necessarily by laying bare empirically verifiable trends but rather by presenting the market as something that makes sense and is worth investing in. Stories of Capitalism is a nuanced look at how banks continue to boost investment—even in unstable markets—and a rare insider’s look into the often opaque financial practices that shape the global economy.

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Philipp Schröder: Bishkek Boys. Neighbourhood Youth and Urban Change in Kyrgyzstan’s Capital. New York, Berghahn 2017

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In this pioneering ethnographic study of identity and integration, author Philipp Schröder explores urban change in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek from the vantage point of the male youth living in one neighbourhood. Touching on topics including authority, violence, social and imaginary geographies, interethnic relations, friendship, and competing notions of belonging to the city, Bishkek Boys offers unique insights into how post-Socialist economic liberalization, rural-urban migration and ethnic nationalism have reshaped social relations among young males who come of age in this Central Asian urban environment.

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Georg Winterberger: Myanmar. Durch die Linse der Menschen. Through the lens of people. Petersberg, Michael Imhof Verlag 2017

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How do the Myanmar view their own country, perceive their own daily life, and are able to convey this inside view to all of us? These were the questions anthropologist Georg Winterberger wanted to reveal, when he travelled and lived in the Golden Land of Myanmar. Beyond the famed Pagodas, the landmarks, and the tourist attractions lay a people living a life. The Olympus PEN E-PL6 cameras, which were given to more than 40 recipients, gave them the opportunity to capture the life they saw everyday: from people eating lunch, a newspaper seller on the streets of Yangon, friends playing Chinlone a common evening pastime, to youth bathing in a river. Views of the colorful markets, pilgrims at an important religious site, an old oxcart, a carpenter during work, a fisherman on the open seas, and taxi drivers waiting for customers. All these photographs culminate in a beautiful visual insight into the genuine lives of the Myanmar.

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Esther Horat: Trading in Uncertainty. Entrepreneurship, Morality and Trust in a Vietnamese Textile-Handling Village. Cham: Springer International Publishing AG 2017

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This book is an ethnographic case study, based on first hand observation, of family businesses in the northern Vietnamese village of Ninh Hiệp along the Red River Delta, which became a major hub for textiles in the wake of the country’s shift towards market socialism. The author explores how the traders experience, negotiate and react to a marketization process that is markedly shaped by the state’s morally ambivalent governance, and which can be thus characterised as an admixture of socialist and neoliberal ideologies.

How are traders shaping the political economy of Vietnam? How has the labour force changed as textile-handling has become an increasingly profitable undertaking? Horat explores the relationships between traders and local authorities, as well as changing ideas of masculinity and femininity. Focusing on the redevelopment of the market landscape and the increasing share of private ownership that have given rise to great uncertainty, this book provides a well-timed inquiry into current debates of economic development in a uniquely shaped market environment.

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Johannes Quack und Cora Schuh (Eds.): Religious Indifference. New Perspectives From Studies on Secularization and Nonreligion. Cham: Springer International Publishing AG 2017

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This book provides a conceptually and empirically rich introduction to religious indifference on the basis of original anthropological, historical and sociological research.

Religious indifference is a central category for understanding contemporary societies, and a controversial one. For some scholars, a growing religious indifference indicates a dramatic decline in religiosity and epitomizes the endpoint of secularization processes. Others view it as an indicator of moral apathy and philosophical nihilism, whilst yet others see it as paving the way for new forms of political tolerance and solidarity. 

This volume describes and analyses the symbolic power of religious indifference and the conceptual contestations surrounding it. Detailed case studies cover anthropological and qualitative data from the UK, Germany, Estonia, the USA, Canada, and India analyse large quantitative data sets, and provide philosophical-literary inquiries into the phenomenon. They highlight how, for different actors and agendas, religious indifference can constitute an objective or a challenge. Pursuing a relational approach to non-religion, the book conceptualizes religious indifference in its interrelatedness with religion as well as more avowed forms of non-religion.

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Shirin Naef: Kinship, law and religion. An anthropological study of assisted
reproductive technologies in Iran. Tübingen: Narr Francke Attempto Verlag GmbH+Co. KG 2017

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 Since the first IVF birth in 1990, the Iranian medical community has not only given full support to the use and development of assisted reproduc­tive technology but has aided the emergence of a powerful, locally-trained body of medical practitioners and biomedical researchers. At the same time, from a religious point of view, most Shia legal authorities – diffe­rences of opinion notwithstanding – have taken a relatively permissive view and generally support assisted reproductive technology, including procedures that involve egg, sperm and embryo donation as well as sur­rogacy arrangements under certain conditions. An examination of the so­cial, legal and ethical aspects of the development and implementation of these technologies in Iran is the subject of this book. It is based on a combination of extensive ethnographic research and textual analysis of important academic and religious seminary publications in Iran, from Shia jurisprudence (fiqh) and Persian histories to the analysis of laws and verdicts.

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Alessandra Pellegrini Calderón: Beyond Indigeneity. Coca Growing and the Emergence of a New Middle Class in Bolivia. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press 2016


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In Bolivia, the discourse on indigenous peoples intensified in the last few decades, culminating in the election of Evo Morales as president in 2005. Indigenous people are portrayed by the Morales government as modest, communitarian, humble, poor, anti-capitalist, and economically marginalized. In his 2006 inaugural speech, Morales famously described indigenous people as “the moral reserve of humanity.” His rhetoric has reached all levels of society, most notably via the new political constitution of 2009. This constitution initiated a new regime of considerable ethnic character by defining thirty-six indigenous nations and languages.

Beyond Indigeneity offers new analysis into indigenous identity and social mobility that changes the discourse in Latin American social anthropology. Author Alessandra Pellegrini Calderón points out that Morales’s presidency has led to heightened publicity of coca issues and an intensification of indigeneity discourse, echoing a global trend of increased recognition of indigenous people’s claim. The “living well” attitude (vivir bien) enshrined in the new political constitution is generally represented as an indigenous way of life, one based on harmony and reciprocity, in sharp contrast to the capitalist logic of “living better” that is based on accumulation and expansion.

In this ethnography, Pellegrini explores the positioning of coca growers in Bolivia and their reluctance to embrace the politics of indigeneity by rejecting the “indigenous peoples’ slot,” even while they emerge as a new middle class. By staying in a space between ethnic categories and also between social classes, the coca growers break with the traditional model of social mobility in Latin America and create new forms of political positioning that challenge the dominant culturalist framework about indigeneity and peasants.

This book was also published in Spanish under the title "Mas allá de la indigeneidad".

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Eva Keller: Beyond the Lens of Conservation. Malagasy and Swiss Imaginations of One Another. New York, Oxford: Berghahn 2015


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In der heutigen Zeit wird ja alles kreuz und quer über die Welt gekarrt, verschifft und geflogen. In unseren Supermärkten gibt's im Dezember Litchis aus Madagaskar, und die Menschen in Madagaskar benutzen leere Nestlé-Kondensmilch-Büchsen, um auf Märkten überall im Land Nahrungsmittel "zu wägen", d.h. man kauft immer so-und-so-viele Nestlé-Büchsen voll Reis, Linsen, Mais ... Jedoch sind nicht nur Dinge quer über die ganze Welt unterwegs, sondern auch Weltanschauungen, Werte und Visionen. Eine der heute wichtigsten globalen Visionen ist der Naturschutz, der zu unzähligen Projekten auf der ganzen Welt führt. Ein solches Projekt ist der Masoala Nationalpark im Nordosten Madagaskars, verwaltet von der madagassischen Behörde (und einer amerikanischen NGO) und tatkräftig unterstützt vom Zürcher Zoo.
Die zentrale Frage, der ich in meinem Buch nachgehe ist die: Bedeutet die Kooperation zwischen Naturschutzakteuren in der Schweiz und in Madagaskar auch, dass dank dieses Projektes eine Verbindung entstanden ist zwischen den Menschen, die an diesen beiden weit voneinander entfernten Orten leben? Stellt die Vision des Naturschutzes eine Brücke zwischen ihnen dar? Um diese Frage zu beantworten, beleuchte ich den Masoala Nationalpark aus zweierlei Perspektiven: einerseits aus der Sicht der Besucher/innen der Masoala Halle im Zürcher Zoo (inklusive Schulklassen jeden Alters), und andererseits aus der Sicht der Bauern, die am Rande des Parks in Masoala leben. Was sehen die Menschen in der Schweiz, was sehen die Menschen in Madagaskar, wenn sie auf das Naturschutzprojekt in Masoala blicken? Gibt es eine gemeinsame Sicht? Die Antwort ist leider nein. Denn aus der Sicht derjenigen, die durch die Brille des Naturschutzes von der Schweiz nach Masoala blicken, erscheinen die Menschen dort als unwissend und defizitär. Aus der Sicht derjenigen, die durch die Brille der madagassischen Kultur auf den Park blicken, erscheinen diejenigen, die den Park unterstützen, als ihnen feindlich gesinnt. Ich komme sogar zum Schluss, dass das Masoala-Naturschutzprojekt die Kluft zwischen den Menschen in der Schweiz und in Madagaskar vergrössert, anstatt sie durch eine geteilte Vision miteinander zu verbinden. Die kaputte Brücke auf der Titelseite symbolisiert dies.

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Georg Winterberger: Ethnographie des Spitals Manyemen. Eine Untersuchung zur Nutzersicht bezüglich Qualität der Pflege in Kamerun. Münster: Monsenstein und Vannerdat (MV Wissenschaft) 2015

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Das zentralafrikanische Spital Manyemen wurde 1954 von der Basler Mission gegründet. Es liegt abseits der Städte im Südwesten von Kamerun und war dafür ausgelegt, die rurale Bevölkerung medizinisch zu versorgen. Heute kann die Bevölkerung dank der steigenden Mobilität auch andere Spitäler aufsuchen. Diese Forschung wurde 2008 zu einer Zeit durchgeführt, in der das Spital mit einem kontinuierlichen Rückgang der Patientenzahlen zu kämpfen hatte. Für mission 21 und die Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, den Betreiberinnen des Spitals, hat der Autor eine Forschung zur Qualität der Pflege des Spitals Manyemen durchgeführt. Im Zentrum standen die Benutzerinnen! und Benutzer des Spitals: Wie bewerten sie die Qualität des Spitals? Wie reagieren sie auf Krankheiten und welche Bedürfnisse haben sie? Entstanden ist eine Ethnographie dieses Spitals, die holistisch das Spital und seine Benutzerinnen und Benutzer beschreibt.




Harish Naraindas, Johannes Quack, and William S. Sax (eds.): Asymmetrical Conversations. Contestations, Circumventions, and the Blurring of Therapeutic Boundaries. Epistemologies of Healing, Volume 14. New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books 2014

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Ideas about health are reinforced by institutions and their corresponding practices, such as donning a patient’s gown in a hospital or prostrating before a healing shrine. Even though we are socialized into regarding such ideologies as “natural” and unproblematic, we sometimes seek to bypass, circumvent, or even transcend the dominant ideologies of our cultures as they are manifested in the institutions of health care. The contributors to this volume describe such contestations and circumventions of health ideologies, and the blurring of therapeutic boundaries, on the basis of case studies from India, the South Asian Diaspora, and Europe, focusing on relations between body, mind, and spirit in a variety of situations. The result is not always the “live and let live” medical pluralism that is described in the literature.


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Peter Finke: Variations on Uzbek Identity. Strategic Choices, Cognitive Schemas and Political Constraints in Identification Processes. Integration and conflict studies Volume 7. New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books 2014

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Throughout its history the concept of “Uzbekness,” or more generally of a Turkic-speaking sedentary population, has continuously attracted members of other groups to join, as being Uzbek promises opportunities to enlarge ones social network. Accession is comparatively easy, as Uzbekness is grounded in a cultural model of territoriality, rather than genealogy, as the basis for social attachments. It acknowledges regional variation and the possibility of membership by voluntary decision. Therefore, the boundaries of being Uzbek vary almost by definition, incorporating elements of local languages, cultural patterns and social organization. This book combines an historical analysis with thorough ethnographic field research, looking at differences in the conceptualization of group boundaries and the social practices they entail. It does so by analysing decision-making processes by Uzbeks on the individual as well as cognitive level and the political configurations that surround them.

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Werner M. EgliThe Sunuwar of Nepal and their Sense of Communication. A Study in the Culture, Psychology and Shamanism of a Himalayan People. Reihe: Asien: Forschung und Wissenschaft/LIT Studies on Asia. Berlin, Münster, Wien, Zürich, London: LIT Verlag 2014

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This detailed study on one among the many indigenous peoples of Nepal is based on more than twenty years of ethnographic research. It starts with an account of the Sunuwar's indigenous notion of culture (mukdum) as expressed in social practice. With reference to specific social fields a model of the Sunuwar person, mainly used to grasp deviations from the ideal way of life, is analysed in the perspective of Cultural Psychology and the Anthropology of the Senses. The study concludes with an analysis of healing rituals, showing that their effect simultaneously results from the ancestral atmosphere produced by the shaman and a kind of domination-free discussion among the ritual participants mainly taking place in the pauses of the ritual. Thus, the shamanic ritual is interpreted as a kind of legal mediation.


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Johannes Quack: Disenchanting India. Organized Rationalism and Criticism of Religion in India. New York: Oxford University Press 2012

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In academic no less than popular thought, India is frequently represented as the quintessential land of religion. Disenchanting India qualifies this representation through an analysis of the contemporary Indian rationalist organisations (those that affirm the values and attitudes of atheism, humanism or free-thinking).To understand the genesis of organised rationalism in India the book addresses the rationalists’ emphasis on maintaining links to atheism and materialism in ancient India and outlines their strong ties to the intellectual currents of modern European history. At the heart of Disenchanting India lies an ethnography of the organisation “Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti” (Organisation for the Eradication of Superstition) based in Maharashtra. This account describes the organization’s efforts to promote a scientific temper and combat the beliefs and practices it regards as superstitious. It also includes an analysis of rationalism in the day to day lives of its members and in relation to the organization’s controversial position within Indian society.The book outlines the distinguishing characteristics of this organisation through a depiction of the rationalists’ specific “mode of unbelief” in comparison to “modes of religiosity”. Alongside a critical engagement with the work of Max Weber and Charles Taylor, the theoretical discussion of modes of unbelief further provides an original basis for comparative studies of similar movements in a trans-cultural perspective. Finally, Disenchanting India can be situated within the contemporary debates about the nature of rationalism in Indian intellectual life and cultural politics. It thereby engages with debates that are as crucial for Anthropology and Religious Studies as they are for Post-colonial Studies, Sociology and History.

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Ulrich Berner und Johannes Quack (Hg.): Religion und Kritik in der Moderne. Reihe: Religionen in der pluralen Welt, Band 9. Berlin: LIT-Verlag 2012

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Seit den Attentaten des 11. September 2001 und in den Debatten um die “Neuen Atheisten” verfestigte sich eine vereinfachte Gegenüberstellung von Religion und (rationaler) Kritik. Demgegenüber betont dieser Band die Vielschichtigkeit von Religionskritik. Er umfasst eine Zeitspanne von der Frühen Neuzeit bis zur Gegenwart und diskutiert exemplarisch Gemeinsamkeiten und Unterschiede von Religionskritiken in den Kulturräumen Nord- und Südamerika, Europa, Indien und China. Hierbei wird nicht nur die beeindruckende Vielfältigkeit der Kritikformen an Religion(en) aufgezeigt. Die Beiträge vergleichen auch methodische und theoretische Zugänge zum Thema Religion und Kritik in der Moderne.



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Johannes Quack, William Sax and Jan Weinhold (eds.): The Problem of Ritual Efficacy. New York: Oxford University Press 2010

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How do rituals work? Although this is one of the first questions that people everywhere ask about rituals, little has been written explicitly on the topic. In The Problem of Ritual Efficacy, nine scholars address this issue, ranging across the fields of history, anthropology, medicine, and biblical studies.
For “modern” people, the very notion of ritual efficacy is suspicious because rituals are widely thought of as merely symbolic or expressive, so that – by definition – they cannot be efficacious. Nevertheless people in many cultures assume that rituals do indeed “work,” and when we take a closer look at who makes claims for ritual efficacy (and who disputes such claims), we learn a great deal about the social and historical contexts of such debates. Moving from the pre-modern era-in which the notion of ritual efficacy was not particularly controversial-into the skeptical present, the authors address a set of debates between positivists, natural scientists, and religious skeptics on the one side, and interpretive social scientists, phenomenologists, and religious believers on the other. Some contributors advance a particular theory of ritual efficacy while others ask whether the question makes any sense at all.
This path-breaking interdisciplinary collection will be of interest to readers in anthropology, history, religious studies, humanities and the social sciences broadly defined, and makes an important contribution to the larger conversation about what ritual does and why it matters to think about such things.

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