Robin M. Wright
This article is an in-depth study of the cosmology and practices of assault sorcerers. While it concentrates mostly on indigenous Amazonian societies, comparisons are drawn from other ethnographic areas of the world. It shows that assault sorcery is an integral part of a nexus of religious knowledge and power, in which primordial spirits of sickness and sorcery are embodied in all manner of assault sorcery. The world of humanity today, according to indigenous cosmogonies examined here, is imbued with violent death through sorcery, the legacy of the primordial world. Prophet movements have often been associated with sorcery among indigenous societies throughout the world. Their principal objectives include the control of assault sorcerers, although the prophets themselves have often succumbed to their violent attacks or even deployed sorcery as a mode of defense against enemies. This world has been corrupted by the incessant violence of sorcerers, which the community elders, shamanic healers, and prophets have all sought to manage and control. What the future holds with the drastic decline of shamanic healers is cause for grave concern among traditional communities.
John Hilary Martin
Indigenous societies are affected by globalization in two ways: the forces of the global economy and culture that come into their traditional homes and their own out-migration to new pluralistic settings, including urban centers and foreign lands. In the case of the Australian aboriginals in the outback, their communities become remittance economies that are similar but also different from other indigenous remittance economies in small Pacific island states such as Tonga. Though some have migrated to Australia's cities, for cultural reasons Australian aboriginals are strongly disinclined to leave their own local areas, and when they have left their local region, they have not left the landmass of Australia in any significant numbers. A major factor in this reluctance to leave is a culturally religious one: the notion of the Dreaming. The Dreaming is a powerful factor in the culture of all Australian aboriginals and has religious roots. The cultural values of the family, the Elders, and the land with its Dreaming are still largely in place in traditional outback communities.
Since 1979, China has seen a renaissance of indigenous belief systems, including Daoist tangki spirit-medium practice. Tangki traditions have Neolithic roots. The founding myth is of a man who magically battled flood demons to save China. In imperial times, ordi-nary people, disenfranchised by the state religion and pawns of dynastic wars, created a soteriology of self-empowerment. Ordinary people would transform through spirit pos-session into warrior gods who would save the community. Millennia-old tangki traditions have diffused into the modern Chinese quotidian. With a remote Central Committee of the Communist Party recalling distant emperors, village temples, many led by tangkis, have formed “second governments” to deal with day-to-day exigencies. Religion offers a cultural lens to obtain new perspectives of the Chinese worldview.
Fan Lizhu and Chen Na
This study suggests that the term “conversion” is deeply embedded in the institutionalized Christian context and may not be an appropriate approach to understand China’s religious tradition shared by the overwhelming majority of the Chinese people. This tradition is understood as China’s common spiritual heritage with elements from various origins including Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. In this tradition of diffused religion, membership is not a prerequisite for participation in religious practice. With evidence from current anthropological research, this study shows that there is a general revival of religious activities in China since the post-Mao reform and increasingly more Chinese would draw on their common spiritual heritage to enrich their spirituality and to face problems in their everyday life without a definite sense of being religious or being converted.
Maricel Mena López
This chapter analyzes the context and daily life of Afro-Caribbean women within globalization in order to find ethnical praxis. This is prevailing and necessary in the actual social model where multiple social relations of power foment a civilization based on divisions and antagonism. The focus is on women registered not only within the globalized patriarchy, but also women that are being violated and discriminated against everywhere. When speaking about Latin American Afro-feminist theology, the author does not propose a sectarian and isolated movement, but affirms that a different world is possible. In the same manner, when she affirms the relatedness of our identity as women, she is conscious that, within black women, similar to rich, poor, young, old, lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual women, there are differences. There are infinite identities, and this is why the chapter cannot become, in the end, an object of reflection; we cannot forget that our fight is also against our particular oppression. We must fight against patriarchy, domination, privileges, and control, as these are values that dehumanize us all.
Azza M. Karam
This chapter begins with a discussion of the legacies of colonialism in the Middle East, and then turns to women and religion in the Middle East, feminisms in the Middle East, and Islamism in the Middle East. It argues that while religious discourse will always have an important role in the Middle East, it is seriously myopic to assume that the Muslim Brotherhood—and all other Islamists—are “anti-women” and “anti-democratic,” as previous nuancing holds. Even within the one organization itself, there are diverse perspectives on women's rights. There are extremely active, very well-educated, cultured, and articulate women members of the Brotherhood, for example, just as there will always be those who are uncomfortable with women's public roles. What must be appreciated is that, in tandem with regime change (and calls for it), are revolutions occurring within almost every group, party, and institution in the Middle East today.
Christopher C. Taylor
One of the core metaphors in Rwandan traditional medicine concerns the flow of bodily fluids. This metaphor is a recursive one, extending into other domains of Rwandan symbolic thought, including notions of the person, ritual, and myth. Stated briefly, this metaphor opposes states of orderly flows to disorderly ones, including blocked flows and excessive flows. The healthy body is characterized by sufficient but not excessive or inadequate bodily flows. Unhealthy or afflicted bodies are often characterized by disorders in “flow” states. After the genocide, many Tutsi victims experienced post-traumatic stress in the form of a specifically Rwandan symptom that they termed ihahamuka. This symptom, as described by Rwandans, involves the blockage of breath in the lungs. Many Rwandans who had suffered extreme trauma during the genocide, but had managed to survive, complained of ihahamuka. Many were highly “Westernized” in terms of their education and religion but were experiencing a disorder that can only be fully understood via traditional Rwandan medicine, a medicine in which they expressed very little credence.
John A. Grim
This article seeks to explore selected examples of diverse indigenous ways of knowing the world. It acknowledges differences not only among indigenous ways of knowing but also between indigenous knowledge and systems of knowing within industrial–technological societies. This latter difference is especially evident with regard to the presentation and organization of indigenous knowledge using the ideas and methods of Western, Enlightenment thought. Typically, indigenous ways of knowing are framed by such Western template ideas as monotheism, social contract theory, private property and individual rights, unilateral views of democratic governance, and scientific views of the objectivity of reality. The discussion considers the organic relationality of lifeway, land, and indigenous knowledge as mutually interactive processes. While differently described by diverse native peoples, indigenous ways of knowing are not simply about creating systems of knowledge; rather, they bring into possibility the lifeway itself.
Jenny Te Paa-Daniel
In 1992 the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia, which owed its origin ultimately to the work of Samuel Marsden and other missionaries, undertook a globally unprecedented project to redeem its inglorious colonial past, especially with respect to its treatment of indigenous Maori Anglicans. In this chapter Te Paa Daniel, an indigenous Anglican laywoman, explores the history of her Provincial Church in the Antipodes, outlining the facts of history, including the relationship with the Treaty of Waitangi, the period under Selwyn’s leadership, as experienced and understood from the perspective of Maori Anglicans. The chapter thus brings into view the events that informed and influenced the radical and globally unprecedented Constitutional Revision of 1992 which saw the creation of the partnership between different cultural jurisdictions (tikanga).
John A. Grim
No one term in an indigenous language may exactly translate, or even correspond to, the English terms “religion” or “ecology.” The term “ecology” is used here to express indigenous knowledge, traditional ecological knowledge, or traditional environmental knowledge. Despite widespread cultural losses due to colonization and industrialization, many indigenous peoples still hold to their creation stories as the basis of their traditional symbols and rituals of spiritual and ecological intimacy. These creation stories provide the cosmological context for knowing self, society, and world. The indigenous traditions of the Americas provide the majority of examples of indigenous religions given in this article. This article also examines indigenous lifeways and the fourfold embodiment: the individual person (or embodied self ), the native society, the larger community of life in a region (nature or ecology), and the powerful cosmological beings typically present in ritual actions and mythic narratives.