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Spirits in Culture, History and Mind - Jeannette Mageo

Spirits in Culture, History and Mind

By: Jeannette Mageo (Editor), Alan Howard (Editor)

Paperback Published: 4th April 1996
ISBN: 9780415913683
Number Of Pages: 282

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"Spirits in Culture, History and Mind" reintegrates spirits into comparative theories of religion, which have tended to focus on institutionalized forms of belief associated with gods. It brings an historical perspective to culturally patterned experiences with spirits, and examines spirits as a locus of tension between traditional and foreign values. Taking as a point of departure shifting local views of self, nine case studies drawn from Pacific societies analyze religious phenomena at the intersection of social, psychological and historical processes. The varied approaches taken in these case studies provide a richness of perspective, with each lens illuminating different aspects of spirit-related experience. All, however, bring a sense of historical process to bear on psychological and symbolic approaches to religion, shedding new light on the ways spirits relate to other cultural phenomena.
Included is a provocative theoretical chapter, co-authored by Robert Levy and the editors. Unabashedly comparative at a time when most anthropologists confine themselves to interpreting local meanings, this chapter argues for a distinction between god-like and spirit-like beings, with gods representing the moral order while spirits are countered at its periphery. Issues associated with morality, power, control, conformity, possession, selfhood, the uncanny, and the impingement of high religions on folk beliefs, among others, are addressed in this chapter.
The conclusion, by Michael Lambek, also excites controversy. Reflecting on the ethnographic material included in the volume, Lambek draws attention to the importance of understanding spirit-related experiences, in their historical contexts, for coming to grips with the very nature of religion.

Industry Reviews

"The essays . . . contribute importantly to our understanding of beliefs and behavior regarding the supernatural in several Pacific societies." -"American Anthropologist "The rich chapters in this collection offer the reader much to ponder. The editors are to be recommended.... I would give this book my highest recommendation. John Barker, "University of British Columbia." "This book examines spirits--ideas about them, encounters with them--as the historical locus of tensions between zones of control and fluidity in social experience. Taking shifting senses of the self and the world it inhabits as their point of departure, the contributors are committed to an analysis of culture at the intersection between psychological, social, and historical processes. By refusing the conventional estrangement between the symbolic and the historical, the authors have established a new benchmark for future work." -Dan Jorgensen, Department of Anthropology, University ofWestern Ontario "I will say that the lead article, "Gods, Spirits and History: A Theoretical Perspective," by Robert I. Levy, Mageo, and Howard, should be required reading for anyone undertaking work on possession...In summary, this volume is an important addition to the field of possession studies.." -Religious Studies Review, Volume 27 Number 3, July 2001 ""Spirits in Culture, History, and Mind consists of a series of contribtuions representing different perspectives necessary to a cross-cultural understanding of contemporary religion. The question the volume raises is not the validity of the exercise but whether the goal is fulfilled by an ethnographic treatment of spirits derived primarily from case studies ofthe Pacific basin, particularly since spirits in this region are said to have retreated "to the shadows.."" -Religious Studies Review, Volume 27 Number 3, July 2001

Introductionp. 1
Gods, Spirits, and History: A Theoretical Perspectivep. 11
Continuity and Shape Shifting: Samoan Spirits in Culture Historyp. 29
They Loved Her Too Much: Interpreting Spirit Possession in Tongap. 55
Heteroglossic Discourses on Nukulaelae Spiritsp. 75
Spirit Encounters on a Polynesian Outlier: Anuta, Solomon Islandsp. 99
Speak of the Devils: Discourse and Belief in Spirits on Rotumap. 121
Local and Foreign Spirits in Kwaio, Solomon Islandsp. 147
Apparitions, Orations, and Rings: Experience of Spirits in Dadulp. 173
Spirit Possession in Chuukp. 195
Cultural and Experiential Aspects of Spirit Beliefs Among the Torajap. 213
Afterword: Spirits and Their Historiesp. 237
Referencesp. 251
Contributorsp. 267
Author Indexp. 269
Subject Indexp. 273
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780415913683
ISBN-10: 0415913683
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 282
Published: 4th April 1996
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.86 x 15.24  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.42
Edition Number: 1

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