ASA09: Anthropological and archaeological imaginations: past, present and future
Bristol, UK

Cultural negotiation: the dialogue between rituals and globalisation
Location Arch & Anth LT1
Date and Time 8th April, 2009 at 09:00


Maria Beldi de Alcantara (University of Sao Paulo)
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Short Abstract

This panel has a interdisciplinary approach : we are studying what the ethnic religion is dialoguing of the globalization process, our focus is the ritual process and its transformation.

Long Abstract

This panel has the objective of analyzing the transformation of rituals of indigenous communities as they enter a dialogue with western societies. Our approach is interdisciplinary: we conceptualize tradition as the entity that suffers many transformations, but there is a structuring and structured nucleus, and it is within this picture that we will analyze the ritual, besides studying what the ethnic religion is in face of the globalization process. It is only by means of the dynamic of this ritual process that we will understand how the influence of occidental society is able to transform certain cultural symbols. Therefore, we need to identify the ethnic cultural symbols that are brought into negotiation with others, and how this dynamic occurs, resulting in a type of cultural hybridism. In light of this conceptualization, this panel has as its primary objective to analyze the changes of the indigenous rituals considered traditional, especially in Latin America. We will draw on examples primarily from interaction with Christianity, but welcome studies look at, for example, the influence of archaeological heritage or nationalism in this ritual-building process.

Chair: maria alcantara/emily pierini

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Appearances can be captive

Author: Guilherme Falleiros (University of São Paulo)


This communication is about a field experience involving Central Brazil's Xavante performances of "tradition" to Japanese visitors and the participation of this researcher in them.

It comments about the visit of a group of Japanese medicine students to watch rituals and do health examinations on the Xavante people from the Abelhinha village; the preparations for the rituals; the painting of this researcher as a "Xavante"; the games, dances and singing showed as difference markers - and also other performances not noted as such (like pranks) - by the Xavante and the Japanese students. It also talks about the gift giving at the encounter.

Tradition and "tradition" (between quotes, as Manuela Carneiro da Cunha could say) were pulled together at once by the Xavante.

Xavante tradition might be exactly about relating to others. While they act as the others would expect, they also capture the "other", only to recreate more difference towards other "others".

By painting this researcher, calling me to take part on one collective shamanic dance, offering me one of the very gifts that the Japanese students brought to the Xavante themselves, washing me in the river and so on, the Xavante played a small part of the long (and maybe never ending) process of transforming "the other" into "the same".

The "Western" (or "Oriental"?) medicine enters this relation as something to be captured too, which does not eliminate the Xavante medicine. The coexistence between "the other" and "the same" would be a constant part of the Xavante tradition.

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(Neo)-shamanic dialogues: encounters between the Guarani and ayahuasca

Author: Isabel De Rose (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais)


About eight years ago, members of a Guarani community in southern Brazil, adopted the beverage known by its QuĂ­chua name ayahuasca in their ritual ceremonies, stating that this beverage is part of their culture and tradition. Although ayahuasca comes from the Amazon, today it is used in many different contexts and can be considered a transnational pan-entheogen. The adoption of this substance by a southern coastal group is a result of relations between the Guarani, an international neo-shamanic group, members of the Brazilian ayahuasca religion Santo Daime and medical personnel contracted by the Federal Government.The Guarani and the above mentioned groups are tightly connected, forming a network in which circulate people, knowledges and substances. On one hand, the formation of this network reflects local, national and international processes that involve representations of the shaman and indigenousness; on the other, it is a result of the praxis of the Guarani community before larger society. In this work, I analyze the appropriation of ayahuasca by the Guarani and the dialogues and negotiations that occur within the network called "alliance of the medicines", suggesting that the insertion of the Guarani in this wider context makes possible a more equal dialogue between this group and the larger society. Finally, following Langdon, I propose that shamanism emerges from specific political and historic contexts and should be thought as a dialogical category, built by the interaction between actors with different origins, discourses and interests.

Religious hybridism: the process of glocalisation in the Vale do Amanhecer

Author: Emily Pierini (University of Wales Trinity Saint David)


The Vale do Amanhecer (Valley of the Dawn) is a rapidly expanding Brazilian religion representing one of the clearest manifestation of religious hybridism. In its complex belief system elements of Christianity, Brazilian indigenous beliefs, and European Spiritism, appear merged together with Afro-Brazilian traditions, Western esotericism, classical mythologies, and new forms of millenarian spirituality. In the Temples of the Amanhecer such complexity is produced through and performed in a large number of rituals, whereby mediums offer spiritual healing to patients.

Religious hybridism is here analysed as the product of an ongoing negotiation between the global and the local. In contexts in which cross-cultural contacts are intensifying, in the border zones in and between cultures, religious traditions find themselves interacting with one another and undergoing a process of transformation, often resulting in the production of new hybrid religious forms. The performance of religious rituals is at the core of a process of re-semantisation.

This analysis highlights how the process of globalisation produces transformation not only in religious systems, but also in contemporary religious experience within a context of religious pluralism.

Vamos a bailar la murga? la murga de Panamá....: Panamanian carnival and the changing nature of carnival know how and belonging

Author: Rodney Reynolds (University College, London)


Patriotism functions as a rhetoric. Having established its locus in the conceptual hyphen that separates as well as links putative nations and apparent states, patriotism eludes precise definition. It presumes its objects (the nation and the state) but cannot constitute either. This rhetoric trades on Panamanians' abilities to express their knowledge and experience of Panamanianess and belonging, through different modes of practice. In patriotism, Panama and Panamanians emerge as both the object and subject of their own claims to knowledge and practice. Carnival offers one of the key modalities through which such emergent, practiced knowledge finds ritualized expression.

At least since Derrida scholars have accepted that material absence helps produce socially mediated local knowledge. The primary spatial domain of that knowledge emerged as Panama City and found expression via navigation strategies and tools. Carnival too produces socially mediated local knowledge that transcends its territorial borders and roots itself in other local domains via the people who live there. This paper will explore how carnival practice has changed over the course of the twentieth century in Panama and shifted localities from Panama City to the Interior of the country fracturing Panamanianess along ideological and racial lines. This can be witnessed in the forms through which carnival is practiced.

Islam and its Mystical Realm: Redefining the Ritual Dichotomy

Author: Saba Khan (University of Oxford)


This paper aims to discuss the rituals associated with Sufism, and how they continue to exist in a hybrid form in the face of modern religiosity. That is they are practiced even today but in a less indigenous, more globalized form. It seeks to extrapolate the various nuances of Sufi culture, analyzing how even in this world of increasing homogeneity, Sufi rituals continue to don pivotal significance for individuals all over the world. The interesting paradox lies in the adaptation of the ritual process to make them more marketable/palatable to the followers of the 21st century. This increasing 'cultural negotiation' can be witnessed through the popularity that Sufi rituals enjoy in the west: from music, to shrines to poetry, Sufism has partially succumbed to the concept of 'commodification' prevalent in the post-modern world. However this paper will also demonstrate how the underlying Sufi message retains its original appeal, but how the ritual process has been redefined to become more accessible to people across geo-political boundaries, as is evident by the remaking of Turkish Sufism, Iranian Sufism in London and Naqshbandi Sufism in Sweden. Finally this paper will discuss the existence of this relatively peaceful expression of Islamic faith in an era stricken by a strong stigma against the Muslim world and connotations of extremism being attached to the community at large. It will in this way seek to challenge these stereotypes levied against the Islamic world and show how Sufi rituals provide space for cultural dialogue between 'us' and 'them'.

Tuesday, the day of the creation of the Earth, evil spirit and Holy Saint

Authors: Gabriela-Mariana Luca (Victor Babes University of Medicine and Pharmacy)
Liliana Eleonora Vasile (Victor Babes University of Medicine and Pharmacy)


Evil female spirit in the ancient Romanian culture, Saint Tuesday is alike Day of the crows, dead, devil, thunderbolt and pots but she is Holy too. In the archetypal space, she lives near Saint Saturday, across the river, she is the lady of the dark empire of worst spirits, the ghosts who leave the tombs and became wolfs, of the wicked fairies.

Become "day of the waters" in the Old Testament, chosen by the Lord to split the waters from land, "day when the Earth was made", Tuesday, blessed in this way, was charged with countless therapeutically values.

The Locked Tuesday, a fasting day in the second week after the Eastern, respected for the human and animal health, especially for the stomachs illness, Tuesday of Dead, Tuesday of Thunderbolt, Tuesday of pots, imported for the popular medicine and the witchcraft with the water from the first snow, all are magic representations, related in one way or another to the celebration of the ancestors cult.

The Holly Hags, responsible for the "precincts culture" of the old Europe following the expression from Marija Gimbutas, before receiving the names of the week's days, could have been goddesses of the vegetation, that disturbed often the "sad old Man", God.

This paper follows many metamorphosis of one pre-Christian goddess, a Holly Hag, the personification of the third day of the week, after the liturgical calendar, feria tertia, it's cult in the Romanian traditions and it's permanent re-adaptation to the Christian orthodox and catholic rituals.