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IUAES 2013: Evolving Humanity, Emerging Worlds. 5-10 August 2013.

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Evolving humanity, emerging worlds

Manchester, UK; 5th-10th August 2013

(WMW04)

Anthropology of emotions and senses in religious performances

Location University Place 2.218
Date and Start Time 08 Aug, 2013 at 09:00

Convenors

Yujie Zhu (Heidelberg University) email
Sujit Surroch (Government Post Graduate College Palampur, H.P., India) email
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Short Abstract

Religious performances provide the platform for people to express their emotional feelings and senses in a subtle way. Worship, dance, sacrifice, incantation etc are different forms of religious activities which allow humans to communicate their feelings to fellow humans

Long Abstract

Religion is one of the oldest institutions of society. Religious performances vary from culture to culture. Religion is practiced at individual level as well as at group level. Religious performances like worship, dance, torturing self, sacrifice of animals, incentivized etc provide an occasion to express one's feelings. These are also ways of communicating certain messages in subtle ways.

Masked dances are very common not only in traditional societies but also in some of the modern societies. Emotions expressed through such performance have to be interpreted within specific cultural contexts. Sorrow, happiness, anger, love, sensuality etc are expressed in religious performances. In a multi-ethnic, multi-religious countries like India. Religious performances are used to communicate ideas and feelings across the ethnic groups. In a stratified society, direct communication may be impossible among members belonging to higher and lower strata, whereas communication may be carried out though masked performers. The contributors of papers to this panel are requested to submit their papers in written texts supported by visual images.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

"Shedding tears": Emotional Aesthetics in Protestant churches

Author: Max Ruben Ramos (Instituto de Ciências Sociais da Universidade de Lisboa)  email
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Short Abstract

My main aim in this paper is to show how the emotions experienced in prayer rituals of conversion and "spiritual renewal" are a mechanism that contributes to a genuine and real Christian spiritual experience and opens the way to acquire an axial Christian-Pentecostal virtue

Long Abstract

My main aim in this paper is to show how the emotions experienced in prayer rituals of conversion and "spiritual renewal" are a mechanism that contributes to a genuine and real Christian spiritual experience and opens the way to acquire an axial Christian-Pentecostal virtue: the broken spirit. Through my fieldwork I will illustrate how the theological postulates of Richard Baxter are still very current. In the seventeenth century, Baxter argued that feelings of grief and shedding of tears are fundamental to conversion and spiritual development. I will explore how, together with the idea of shedding of tears, comes a strong rhetoric of sincerity and authenticity in the relationship of the believer with his divinity, as well as occurs in social relations.

Pilgrimages: a case study of Kailash Yatras

Author: Sujit Surroch (Government Post Graduate College Palampur, H.P., India)  email
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Short Abstract

The paper deals with motivating factors, experiences, beliefs & practices, challenges being faced by Kailash pilgrims and measures taken to overcome them.

Long Abstract

The holy yatras (Treks) provide a kaleidoscopic view of beliefs, practices and bond of mankind with almighty. In paradisiacal land of Himachal Pradesh (India), millions of pilgrims undertake yatras to three Kailashas without being deterred by the tough hill terrains, hostile climatic conditions, altitude above 13500 feet and tiresome journey on foot. An empirical study was conducted with objectives to find out factors motivating pilgrims to undertake arduous Yatras and to know about their experiences. Religious practices being observed and challenges faced during Yatras and measures taken to overcome them were also examined. Information was elicited from thousands of pilgrims of these Kailashas during pilgrimage during 2007-11 through interviews, Focused Group Discussions and observation.

It was observed that urge for eternal bliss, demystification of mysteries, to see abode of God and adventurism motivated the respondents to undertake Yatra(s). The informants keep reciting incantations during journey. Significant proportions of subjects perform yajna, meditate, worship, dance and some even beat themselves with bundle of iron chains. Overwhelming majority of informants held the belief that they were there because of His will and their good deeds of past lives. Tented accommodation at halting venues and eatables along the track are available for pilgrims. However, the subjects complained of scarcity of toilets, lights, mobile connectivity and proper paths. Yatras become challenging because of landslides, active shooting stones, incessant rains, icy winds and inadequate oxygen. However, reminiscences of almighty, fulfilling spiritual experiences and wonderful natural scenery drenching the pilgrims in the enchanting ambiance keep them charged, refreshed and energized.

Embodying Tourism Imaginaries in Religious Performances

Author: Yujie Zhu (Heidelberg University)  email
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Short Abstract

Taking three religious performances in Lijiang as a case study, this study examines how these performances represent and produce embodied imaginaries through sensual communication between performance and tourism.

Long Abstract

Religious performance, as the representation, perception, and interpretation of local religion, is an intrinsic part of international tourism and helps (re-)build the place-bound identity in mediating the influence of global forces. The production, distribution, and consumption of performances create imaginaries about the shared life style and values of locals. Thus, religious performance helps to construct, folklorize, and ethinicize the local authenticity and distinctiveness. From this approach, religious performance highlights tourists' experiences of places in multi-sensuous ways that involve both bodily sensation and affect. The performance becomes an embodied practice that makes meaning and constructs collective identity as a contingent process.

World Heritage Site old town of Lijiang, as one of the most popular tourism destinations of China, has attracted millions of tourists from around the world. The commoditization and its manifestation in the indigenous religion have emerged to satisfy the demand of its booming mass tourism. Taking three religious performances as case studies, this paper aims to explore how performances express emotions through the mutual communication between performers and tourists. It also examines how these performances are interpreted and transformed into embodied practices that transform religious images into the imaginaries of local tourism market. Through this process of bodily performing and gazing, religious performances show the dynamic forms of encounter, combining the homogenization of global capital and the heterogenization of local ethnicity.

An Awkward Feeling: shame, fear and power in candomblé spirit possession

Author: Giovanna Capponi (University of Roehampton)  email
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Short Abstract

I carried out a research in a "candomblé house" situated in Northen Italy. Here I will explore the ways in which Brazilian immigrants and Italian "converted" experience spirit possession and other religious rituals, by expressing discordant emotions like shame, fear, excitement or power greediness.

Long Abstract

Candomblé is an Afro-Brazilian religious system based on the cult of the orixás, deities whose origins can be traced back to the West-African kingdoms. Candomblé rituals involve sacrifices, spirit possessions and manipulation of sacred energy. The Axè Ilé Alaketú Ayrá is a terreiro (candomblé house) that was founded in Arborio in 2000. It is attended by both Brazilian immigrants who practiced the cult in their country, and Italian novices who decided to "convert" and who were initiated in the religion. On these premises, the sacred space has been reinvented in order to fit into the social expectations and rules of a European settlement. Nevertheless, I found the challenge for the terreiro is to fit into a social landscape where "otherness" generates fear and anxiety amongst the people of the surrounding villages, but also amongst the novices' families and friends. I spent part of the research examining how the social actors rebuilt their identities according to their original social and religious backgrounds. The experience of the initiation, the trance and the offerings are perceived differently by Brazilian and Italian practitioners. By shifting their identites with the orixás, candomblé practitioners embody power and knowledge, reclaiming the streghts and weaknesses of their personal gods and the prestige of incorporating the sacred energy. However, the trance also triggers feelings like shame, fear and helplessness. The sacred space shows its power through the projection of a new transnational identity, that is embodied both in the migrants' reminescences and in the novices' cultural memory.

Jayakara (Slogans) Evoking Emotions: Worship of Mother Goddesses in Northwest India

Author: Abha Chauhan (University of Jammu)  email
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Short Abstract

The jayakara (slogans) are echoed during worship of the mother goddesses throughout India including the northwest part of the country evoking and generating several different emotions.

Long Abstract

Throughout the year thousands of pilgrims visit various shrines of the divine mother goddesses in India. The inception of the very idea of visiting the mata (mother) for worship or having her darshan (seeing her idol) is believed to be her bulawa (call). No one can visit and worship Her until she calls, and when she calls no one can stop that person from visiting Her. Such is the faith in the shakti (power) of the mother goddess. On the way to her temple or abode or during pilgrimage, various callings or reciting of Her name called jayakara are echoed evoking a variety of emotions like happiness, peace, craziness', anxiousness etc. Some of these mean that she calls Herself, fulfils all wishes, nobody gives like Her, and is all benevolent, compassionate and caring for Her children. The jayakara also urges people to recite the slogans collectively and people greet each other individually or in groups on the way to Her darshan. Many times, the abode of the mata is situated amidst mountains following arduous and difficult track. People climb many kilometres despite their age, health or transport facility. The paper attempts to understand the concept of jayakara and its significance in conveying myriad emotions in the performance of the worship of the divine mother goddesses in Jammu region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in northwest India.

How grief is expressed by Japanese Shamans Itako and participants; in religious performance after the Great East Japan Earthquake

Author: Eiko Hara Kusaba (Iwate Prefectural University)  email
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Short Abstract

Many people visit Itako to communicate with dead relatives. After the Great East Japan Earthquake, many surviving families and their relatives visit her. Through the religious performance, they can say good-by to their family members and experience emotional relied.

Long Abstract

Many people visit Itako Japanese shamans for communicating with deceased relatives and friends. The Most famous place for gathering Itako is the Mt. Osorezan which is located at northern most part of the main land in Japan. After the Great East Japan Earthquake, there were many surviving families and their relatives who visit her. People believe the dead can speak through Itako, so they can communicate with them. They intend to say last farewells to deceased relatives and friends, or want to find their bodies. Through the religious performance, surviving families can say good-by to dead family and experience a sense of emotional closure.

In this situation the Itako are sitting down under the plastic sheet outside the Buddhism Temple. There is a candle lit in front of her. The client is sometimes only one person though often with the family and relatives. While a client inquires about the dead family members through the Itako, other persons also gather between the same sheets and are waiting. They are listening to the communication with the current clients and watching the religious performance of Itako. Sometimes they are listening to the other people's communication with the dead person, and sometimes waiting people also are weeping in sympathy. At still other times, the waiting person participates in the other clients' communication. In this paper, the healing of the grief around the Japanese shamans, Itako is explored.

Framing and Reframing of self: A Study of the Kherai religious performances of the Bodo Community

Author: Anwesa Mahanta (University of Delhi)  email
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Short Abstract

This is an attempt to explore meanings of the performance acts, observed as interpretations of life, who move beyond a particular text to several processes of communication and exchange of emotions, feelings, desires, the performance as social action transforms the status of the participants.

Long Abstract

The term performance embraces an extensive arena of cultural texts ranging from performances of theatre, music, dance, and narration of oral texts, various kinds of social and religious rituals including speech events too. But within this societal existence of acts and events, the role of the self in individuating the societal connotations in one's life is an interesting phenomenon. The Bodos , one of the major ethnic and linguistic groups of Northeastern India residing mainly in Assam, observe Bathou series of rituals connected with Bathouism, being the main religion of the community. The Bathou Boiraye is the principal God and the devotees of this religion offer sincere prayers to propitiate the deity with performance acts ranging from dance, chanting and sacrifices. Among these Kherai and Garja are the most prominent religious acts each of which is subsumed with deep metaphysical symbolism. "If the symbolism of the myth is rightly understood the ritual will appear as a poetic enactment and not an empty religious act" (Jiwan Pani). However when these myths and legends are presented in stylized enactments through body movements, images, chanting they become powerful mode of aesthetic representation of an art having significant connotations contextualized in a particular society or community. The present paper attempts to explore a multi-perspective approach of the Kherai acts embracing its structure, process and purpose.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Sponsors

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