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Open access

Patrick Mccartney

Abstract

Satsaṅga is a public domain where ideas related to transcendence and culturallycontingent “Truth” are suggested. This paper combines a longitudinal study of Shanti Mandir’s (www.shantimandir.com) satsaṅga, with close reading of local and non-local literary theories related to the performativity of satsaṅga and the doctrine of appreciating tranquillity (śāntarasavāda). This leads to the possibility of framing satsaṅga as a rasavatkāvya (charming-literature) literary artefact; which we can regard as a type of hybrid campū-rasavat kāvya. Finally, from an interdisciplinary perspective, I provide a novel epistemological bricolage to understand the soteriological and sociological aims of satsaṅga from within the Temple of Peace (Shanti Mandir) organisation, and propose an analytical framework about how satsaṅga operates as a formal learning domain; where sādhaka-s (aspirants) attempt to gain access to a yoga-inspired disposition related to becoming (praśama), embodying and experiencing śānti (tranquillity), which occurs through learning to become śāntamūrti-s (embodiers of tranquillity) by appreciating śāntarasa (the aesthetic mood of tranquillity).

Open access

Nicolette Makovicky

Abstract

This article considers the role of information, communication, and knowledge in processes of exchange and value creation in the British antiques market. As such, it positions itself between the long-standing anthropological interest in the cultural construction of value (see APPADURAI 1986; GRAEBER 2001), and the equally long-standing interest in how asymmetries of information affect consumer behaviour (see AKERLOF 1970). Drawing on ethnographic material gathered over three months of fieldwork amongst antique dealers in the Notting Hill and Kensington Area of London, I aim to through light on what it is that dealers ‘know’ and how this knowledge is translated into profit within the trade. I argue that dealers’ knowledge of objects is encyclopaedic, discursive, and tactile at once and it is gained mainly through many years of handling of objects. Dealers must also keep abreast with the market movement of objects and their prices using this information to gage the potential profit they may accrue from a deal. Both forms of knowledge, I argue, are mobilized at once when a dealer is investing in stock and when he or she seeks to sell an item, in a ritual of show-and-tell that serves to both to verify the quality, condition and authenticity of a piece and to simultaneously negotiate its price.

Open access

Ravinder Singh

Abstract

This paper reviews pain, social and physical, and its suffering in and beyond the body. It has reviewed evidences for neuro-chemical and neural overlap between social and physical pain. It also explores the consequences of this overlap followed by the sociocultural aspects of pain through an anthropological lens. This is an anthropological exploration of pain for the benefit of the understanding of our clinicians about human pain and suffering beyond the body in their local world.

Open access

Kateřina Mildnerová

Abstract

The article aims at legal and illegal activities of Lusaka´s traditional healers within the system of traditional medicine which is primarily anchored in the constitution of traditional healers´ associations. It primarily focuses on witch-finders, whose social status, professional position and authority is constantly negotiated within the formal and informal sector of traditional medicine. Since the late 1990s, the quest for services of traditional healers specialised in witch-finding has gained popularity, particularly amongst the impoverished Lusaka compound-dwellers. Due to the increasing public violence against those denoted as witches, the activities of witch-finders were officially banned by the Witchcraft Act in 1995 and this profession is not officially recognised by the Constitution of Traditional Health Practitioners Association of Zambia (THAPAZ). In spite of the prohibition, there remain many witch-finders in Lusaka who practise witch-finding secretly, in order not to commit an offence they do not openly denounce the name of an alleged witch. Their authority and credibility is threatened by many “official” as well as “unofficial” competitors in the city and it must be constantly reaffirmed and negotiated by introducing innovations. The ability to keep clients and to gain a good reputation thus depends on the originality of their diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. At the same time witch-finders must counter diverse obstacles and uncertainties resulting from their illegal status within the sector of traditional medicine. The author analyses tactics that Lusaka´s witch-finders have developed and employed to negotiate their social status, credibility and authority visà-vis the competition from the “official” traditional healers.

Open access

Yonas Seifu and Jan Záhořík

Abstract

This study deals with the early history of Jimma town and its growth from its foundation until 1936. It explores social, economic and administrative themes, but also attempts to show the interrelationship between these themes. The town of Jimma evolved during this period from being the home-town of a relatively homogenous society and culture into a place of residence for a diverse and increasingly cosmopolitan population. Economically, the story of Jimma during this period is one of both continuity and change. It is a story of continuity because Jimma, which had been a center of trade from the very beginning, continued to be so during this period. There was significant change, however, because unlike the previous decades in which Jimma had served as a point of exchange or transit for elite goods that mostly originated from beyond the borders of the Oromo Kingdom (such as slaves, ivory and musk), during this period the town developed into the chief center for the collection, organization and export of a cash crop that was grown locally (coffee).

Economic change, therefore, resulted in both production and exchange. The social, economic and administrative history of Jimma is closely intertwined, however. The mixture of peoples and cultures, as well as the nature of the urban social institutions that evolved in the town, are closely tied to “the cash crop revolution”, which brought streams of permanent and temporary residents to the town; the evolution of the town into a chief administrative center, as well as the introduction of somewhat peculiar administrative and fiscal institutions, came about, at least in part, as a result of the location of the town in the heart of the “coffee country”, as southwestern Ethiopia came to be known. In short, both the urbanity and the urbanization of Jimma can be explained by the story of coffee production and trade. This article documents these processes extensively and accounts for the growth of a major town in modern Ethiopia.

Open access

Pawel Sendyka

Abstract

In the Polish pastoralist tradition there have always been two seminal community events which bracketed the winter season. There was the autumn event of “Redyk Jesienny” when the sheep brought back from the summer alpine pastures were given back to their owners and there was also a spring “Redyk” also called “Mieszanie Owiec” which literally means the Mixing of Sheep. Historically, it was an important event in which the head shepherd, or the baca had to use his magical knowledge to ensure that the big herd made up of sheep from the individual owners would keep together as one and produce enough milk to make this summer venture profitable. To do that he used magic spells and performed rituals learned from his predecessors. The bacas' magical knowledge was frequently in opposition to the powers of the priests who viewed them with suspicion. Today, this spring event of “Mieszanie Owiec” is much changed. It is no longer a private affair of the baca and the sheep owners. Frequently, it is a public event, a tourist attraction, with the priests often taking centre stage. There is even a new, “invented” tradition of region wide “Mieszanie” at the sanctuary of Ludźmierz. There, a small herd of around 200 sheep is symbolically used to bless all the herds going up the mountain pastures for the season. The paper examines how these traditions changed from old ethnographic descriptions and how they are evolving in a modern economic and social reality.

Open access

Peter Skalník

Abstract

This short tribute to Ján Podolák comments on the space between two extremes: pure science and blind belief. If religion is not susceptible to scientific proof because it is a belief in an invisible world inhabited by spirits who influence human existence on earth then science in its strictest sense is the opposite of religion because it is not based on any beliefs but solely on provable facts. However, the anthropology of science should be based on the pluralism of knowledge and the seeking of truth in different cultural settings around the world. Everything human, also science, is a social and cultural phenomenon. This means that rationality is not a preserve of the Western mind only and that without falling into the trap of postmodernist excessive relativism, we should admit that rationality is not only universal but also not hierarchized evolutionistically or qualitatively by giving preference to its Western brand. Science thus ceases to be the only realm of rational knowledge. Religion in its turn is a kind of non-scientific knowledge.

Open access

Zbyněk Andrš

Abstract

This article explicates the sociocultural dynamics in the changing lives of the Vlashika Rom group in the Czech and Slovak Republics and contemplates the prospective development of this Roma subculture. To provide a better insight into the endeavour of the Vlashika Rom to maintain their integrity and into their adaptation strategies, the author outlines the genesis of this subethnic group, pointing out the historical circumstances that have formed them in the past. Contrary to former descriptions, the author provides an entirely new concept for dividing the Vlashika Rom into subgroups, identifying three distinct levels that create social boundaries within this community. He describes the way of living of this subgroup in the past as well as the relationships between the Vlashika Rom and the dominant society. Frequently antagonistic, these relationships depend on their way of life, substantially determined by the way they earn their living. The author analyses the inner resources that keep sustaining the contemporary Vlashika Rom culture and, drawing on his own experience and impulses from literature, inquires how long this anachronistic yet at the same time very adaptable culture will be able to resist the assimilation pressures deriving from the very nature of the modern national state.

Open access

Matúš Ivan

Abstract

This article characterizes the male dance odzemok as one of the most representative dances in the broad spectrum of Slovak folk dances. A more detailed analysis and subsequent analysis of the literature confirms the absence of a comprehensive integrated material concerning odzemok in a wider context. This text further highlights the historical development of said male dance in the central geographic area, and analyzes the factors that led to the development of its present form.

Open access

Vesna Bočko

Abstract

Throughout the paper the author focuses on the ritual of female circumcision in Indonesian Java, more specifically in the city of Yogyakarta. By the help of fieldwork and academic literature she examines this not merely taboo but also legally forbidden practice in the biggest Muslim country in the world. Female circumcision (FC) in Java and Indonesia in general is considered as a daily practice going hand in hand with tradition. The author puts to the foreground the form of circumcision performed in Yogyakarta and its classification as a symbolic and less invasive one. She explains the history of this ritual in the archipelago, national and international regulations and guidelines, analyzes the role of different authorities (state, religious leaders and NGO’s) on the persistence/abundance of FC and as a consequence its ‘globalized’ form (medicalizetion of FC). The author learns and emphasizes that this is a practice taken for granted, whose origin is little known to the interlocutors (the executors and participants of the ritual) and that the existing literature on the subject is insufficient. For such research a careful approach is of key importance and the author frequently utilizes the help of cultural relativism, reductionism and the use of narrative.