This book examines the recycling infrastructure in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It considers the circular flows of waste and practices through ‘infracycles’, maintenance practices that tinker with the social and capitalist order, and postcolonial ways of doing politics that co-constitute predominant waste fantasies from which naturecultures ooze out, shaping urban life in their own way.
In this context, socially marginalized waste pickers contest the capitalist system by creating tropes about freedom, labor autonomy, and the will to survive. In this regard, they are also meddling about a new social order that represents the fine line Cambodia is sashaying between tradition and modernity. Waste fantasies that are a result of environmental problematizations, however, perpetuate postcolonial ways of doing politics by exuding notions of waste as detached from its sociocultural context. But ultimately, waste slips through the cracks of these dominant imaginaries and global waste reduction models enacting new versions of what waste and the city is, providing opportunities for another future waste policy.
Since its inception over two millennia ago, the spice trade has connected and transformed the environments, politics, cultures, and cuisines of vastly different societies around the world. The ‘magical’ qualities of spices mean they offer more than a mere food flavoring, often evoking memories of childhood events or specific festivals. Although spices are frequently found in our kitchen cupboards, how they get there has something of a mythical allure. In this ethnographically rich and insightful study, the authors embark on a journey of demystification that starts in the Sino-Vietnamese uplands with three spices – star anise, black cardamom, and cassia (cinnamon) – and ends on dining tables across the globe. This book foregrounds the experiences of ethnic minority farmers cultivating these spices, highlighting nuanced entanglements among livelihoods, environment, ethnic identity, and external pressures, as well as other factors at play. It then investigates the complex commodity chains that move and transform these spices from upland smallholdings and forests in this frontier to global markets, mapping the flows of spices, identifying the numerous actors involved, and teasing out critical power imbalances. Finally, it focuses on value-creation and the commoditization of these spices across a spectrum of people and places. This rich and carefully integrated volume offers new insights into upland frontier livelihoods and the ongoing implications of the contemporary agrarian transition. Moreover, it bridges the gap in our knowledge regarding how these specific spices, cultivated for centuries in the mountainous Sino-Vietnamese uplands, become everyday ingredients in Global North food, cosmetics, and medicines. Links to online resources, including story maps, provide further insights and visual highlights.
This open access book provides methodological devices and analytical frameworks for the study of societies in transformation. It explores a central paradox in the study of change: making sense of change requires long-term perspectives on societal transformations and on the different ways people experience social change, whereas the research carried out to study change is necessarily limited to a relatively short space of time. This volume offers a range of methodological responses to this challenge by paying attention to the complex entanglement of qualitative research and the metanarratives generally used to account for change. Each chapter is based on a concrete case study from different parts of the world and tackles a diversity of topics, analytical approaches, and data collection methods. The contributors' innovative solutions provide valuable tools and techniques for all those interested in the study of change.
Ein bunter Strauss von Beiträgen, gesammelt entlang der gewundenen Wege der Zürcher Ethnologie des vergangenen halben Jahrhunderts: Beobachtungen, Fakten, Anekdoten, Eindrücke und Erinnerungen einer grossen Zahl von Autorinnen und Autoren aus fünf Jahrzehnten voller Veränderungen, die das Ethnologische Seminar der Universität Zürich und später das ISEK-Ethnologie prägten: von den Nachwehen der Turbulenzen von „1968“ über die „Zürcher Unruhen“ anfangs der 1980er und die Herausforderungen der 1990er Jahre bis zu den curricular und verwaltungstechnisch einschneidenden Bologna-Reformen 2004 und 2019, und schliesslich zu der gezwungenen Neu-Erfindung der ethnologischen Forschung im Zuge der Corona-Pandemie.
Es wurde dabei keine Vollständigkeit angestrebt und keine ethnohistorische oder wissenssoziologische Tiefenstudie des Instituts angelegt, aber verschiedenartige, durch Ort und Geschichte zusammenhängende Schlaglichter auf die Zürcher Ethnologie geworfen, auf Diversität und Vielfalt von Perspektiven, die diese schwer zu bändigende und deshalb eben „undisziplinierte“ Disziplin von früher, heute und im Blick auf die Zukunft auf spannende und lebendige Weise, vielstimmig und selbstreflexiv, abbilden.
224 Seiten, 34 Abbildungen, CHF 15.00. Bestellung bitte beim Empfang des Völkerkundemuseums
PDF-Download: Zurich Open Repository and Archive (ZORA)
Arts in the Margins of World Encounters presents original contributions that deal with artworks of differently marginalized people–such as ethnic minorities, refugees, immigrants, disabled people, and descendants of slaves–, a wide variety of art forms–like lay figures, textiles, paintings, poems, museum exhibits and theatre performances–, and original data based on committed, long-term fieldwork and/or archival research in Brazil, Martinique, Rwanda, India, Indonesia, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. The volume develops theoretical approaches inspired by innovative theorists and is based on currently debated analytical categories including the ethnographic turn in contemporary art, polycentric aesthetics, and aesthetic cannibalization, among others. This collection also incorporates fascinating and intriguing contemporary cases, but with solid theoretical arguments and grounds.
See also https://vernonpress.com/book/607
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How do rural Chinese households deal with the conflicting pressures of migrating into cities to work as well as staying at home to preserve their fields? This is particularly challenging for rice farmers, because paddy fields have to be cultivated continuously to retain their soil quality and value. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and written sources, Rural-Urban Migration and Agro-Technological Change in Post-Reform China describes farming households' strategic solutions to this predicament. It shows how, in light of rural-urban migration and agro-technological change, they manage to sustain both migration and farming. It innovatively conceives rural households as part of a larger farming community of practice that spans both staying and migrating household members and their material world. Focusing on one exemplary resource - paddy fields - it argues that socio-technical resources are key factors in understanding migration flows and migrant-home relations. Overall, this book provides rare insights into the rural side of migration and farmers' knowledge and agency.
Né il y a plus de trente ans dans les ghettos noirs américains, le hip-hop s’est progressivement détaché de son premier contexte d’émergence et a circulé d’un bout à l’autre de la planète. Ce numéro vise à comprendre les conditions d’émergence, les modalités d’appropriation et les circuits de diffusion de cette forme culturelle globalisée. Dossier coordonnée par Alice Aterianus-Owanga, Olivia Killias et Virginie Milliot: https://www.ethnographiques.org/2020/numero-40/
Approaching the 50th anniversary of the Bangladeshi state, this special issue aims to explore the contemporary imaginations and manifestations of state power, public order, notions of popular sovereignty, bureaucracy, state/society relations and electoral practices in Bangladesh. By engaging with existing debates, we attempt to sharpen our analysis of the distinct features that characterise Bangladesh and explore possible continuities within South Asia. How do we explain the seeming disparity between widespread disillusionment with party politics and state practices on the one hand, and high levels of politicization of major sectors of society on the other? What role do moral orders, imaginations of the state or citizenship, and different power structures play in this context? Our focus on research-based, ethnographically informed papers allows us to highlight local dynamics, imaginations and material manifestations of what has been called the ‘state effect’. Although this collection assembles articles with the explicit regional focus on Bangladesh, we hope that its spatial and historical situatedness will prove useful for comparative debates and thus contribute to pushing forward and refining the general ongoing and much-needed conceptual debates on ‘the state’.
Exploring lived atheism in the South Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, this book offers a unique insight into India’s rapidly transforming multi-religious society. It explores the social, cultural, and aesthetic challenges faced by a movement of secular activists in their endeavors to establish atheism as a practical and comprehensive way of life. On the basis of original ethnographic material and engaged conceptual analysis, Total Atheism develops an alternative to Eurocentric accounts of secularity and critically revisits central themes of South Asian scholarship from the hitherto marginalized vantage point of radically secular and explicitly irreligious atheists in India.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
Wie sehen die Bewohnerinnen und Bewohner von Myanmar ihr Land? Was aus ihrem Alltag werden sie uns zeigen? Mit solchen Fragen im Gepäck reiste der Autor Georg Winterberger nach Südostasien ins Goldene Land. Bei diesem Projekt standen aber nicht die Pagoden und die Sehenswürdigkeiten des Landes im Zentrum. Nein, die Menschen sollen uns ihr Land selbst zeigen - aus ihrer Sicht sozusagen: durch die Linse der Bewohnerinnen und Bewohner. Dazu erhielten über zwanzig Personen eine Olympus PEN E-PL6 für bis zu drei Wochen, sie fingen ihren Alltag für uns ein: Freunde beim Chinlone Spiel (abendliches Ballspiel), ein Zeitungsverkäufer in den Strassen Yangons, Menschen beim Essen, die Jugend beim Baden, die Farben der Märkte, Bilder von Pilgerreisen zu religiösen Orten, ein altes Ochsengespann, ein Schreiner bei der Arbeit, die Fischer auf hoher See und Taxifahrer beim Warten auf weitere Kundschaft. Entstanden ist so ein wunderschöner Einblick ins Leben von Myanmar etwas abseits der Sehenswürdigkeiten.
Die 7 Filme sind auch zu finden unter: www.myanmar-through-the-lens-of-people.com
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.