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.
Indigenous Christianities: Commensuration, (De)Colonization, and Cultural Production in Latin America
From the earliest moments of the colonial encounter, indigenous Christianity has been an object of scrutiny. This chapter examines indigenous Christianity in its connection with a founding problem of Latin American studies: the asymmetrical encounter of indigenous communities with external powers and the resulting complex of social, political, and economic entanglements is the origin story of the project. The discussion is framed around two correlated arguments. First, like many other “Spanish” forms, Christianity was quickly insinuated as a self-evident and potent component of indigenous experience. This had cosmological as well as more prosaic implications. Within this context, indigenous locality—the ground of indigenous Christianities—is best examined not as an insular embattled survival (the “closed corporate community” of classical social science), but as an ever-emergent project of cultural production undertaken always with respect to a more inclusive sacred and social universe. The second argument concerns the ways this founding entanglement has become constitutive of indigenous locality, and advocates approaching Christianity less as an index of degrees of assimilation or change, and more as a dynamic cultural resource and frame of continuing encounter that remains a generative component of an emerging indigenous modernity.
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.
Jesuits have commanded scholarly attention in recent years, with Jesuit studies almost becoming an independent academic discipline. However, their involvement in Africa remains largely unstudied, even though they were in parts of the continent for close to two centuries. Moreover, after their restoration in 1814, the Jesuits played a significant role in the evangelization of Africa. This essay is an overview of Jesuit presence in Africa over the centuries. While it gives more prominence to the historical missions of the pre-suppression period in Congo, Angola, Mozambique, and Ethiopia, it also covers more recent presence in Madagascar, southern Africa and Egypt, and concludes with a brief analysis of the state of the Society of Jesus in Africa today. The essay underscores the challenge of locating Jesuit records related to Africa and the importance of understanding early missionary efforts on the African continent for the benefit of similar efforts in our time.
Michelene E. Pesantubbee
This article defines Native American Movements as revitalization movements characterized by strong emphasis on the elimination of alien persons, customs, values, and/or material from the mazeway. Native American millennialism emerged as a response to the pan-continental colonization of the Americas and the subsequent periods of social oppression. Convergence with incoming European culture hinted at the dissolution of indigenous religio-cultural practices, ways of life and hence, instigated self-styled prophets to preach loyalty to ancestral ways and relinquish European practices. Materialism, coupled with an awareness of military inferiority, motivated certain native quarters to compromise and enter the mainstream. Since the twentieth century, Native Americans, now US citizens, championed movements for various group rights, which were mostly land-related. In 1969, a few native youths took over the Alcatraz Islands, claiming native rights by discovery.
The traditional indigenous peoples of the Americas share much in common with indigenous peoples throughout the world who have been affected by the forces of globalization. At the same time the importance of their knowledge—spiritual, ecological, and social—retains its significance in this increasingly globalized world for myriad reasons. Among these are a respect for the natural environment and ecosystems that sustain life. Another is the quest for meaning in local traditions that is a counterpoint to modern development. Native American identity has been designated, decided upon, and forced upon Native Americans by social and political actions. This article focuses on Native American religious societies. First, it discusses the problem of definition and identity with respect to Native Americans. It then considers the diversity of Native American ways, creation stories based on “cosmovision,” sacred earth, sacred space, sacred sites, Native American identity through harmony with the land and life's cycles, Christianity and native traditions, and keeping Native American tradition intact in an era of globalization.
Jean E. Rosenfeld
This article examines five nativistic millennial movements that are culturally, geographically, and temporally dissimilar to find the similarities that bind them into a single category: the Ghost Dance, the Common Law Freemen, Pai Marire, “cargo” cults, and al-Qaeda–the International Jihad. It discusses features of nativist millennialism that began to be extrapolated in the mid-twentieth century with the appearance of pioneering monographs by anthropologists. Loss of ancestral land and traditional ways of life, under foreign invasion, informs the nativist school. The ultimate goal is the redeeming of these elements, by magical means—the sudden disappearance of the invading forces, the return of mythical heroes or messiahs, and an altered landscape. The distant nature of the ultimate goal motivates the nativist to relinquish present ways of life and material possessions as sacrifices.
When one considers processes of globalization in the Pacific Islands, one is struck by the extent to which religion has been central to them. There are grounds to argue that religion, and Christianity in particular, has been the single most powerful globalizing force throughout the Pacific Islands. Although the region comprises such social, cultural, and historical diversity among the islands of Melanesia, Polynesia, and Micronesia that generalization is rendered treacherous, this claim about the importance of religion to globalization is one that holds very broadly. Urban politics are almost everywhere carried out in rhetoric rich in Christian allusions and assumptions. One can find all kinds of syncretism in the Pacific Islands. One can detect something of a general trend in the development of Pacific Island syncretisms; a trend that can be approached by contrasting cargo cults and Christian revivals—two kinds of movements that have become emblematic of religious life in Melanesia in particular.
Andrew Strathern and Pamela J. Stewart
This chapter examines the associations between religion and violence. The Bellonese case reveals that the ideology of honor drove the pattern of vengeance killings; that this ideology primarily pertained to men and their agnatic kin; that it was supported by appeals to gods and ancestors; and that peace rituals did not produce permanent effects. In the Fijian case, it is shown that war-chief and land-chief were ideally balanced with each other, the one standing for external violence, the other for internal peace. In Bau, this balance was upset and inverted due to the sea-going war-chiefs who came to engage a pre-eminent position by terminating the land-chiefs. In the New Guinea Highlands societies, a higher development of an ideology of wealth used is observed as a life-giving replacement for persons, whether for bridewealth payments, payments to allies, or compensation to enemies.
This chapter presents a survey of several contemporary, major definitions of sacrifice as forms of symbolic and performative violence. A modest discussion of patterns in the sacrifices of animals and their symbols in various traditions is reported. The chapter then turns to an interpretation of the more troubling topic of actual human sacrifices in various cultures. The role of emotion and aggression in sacrifice appears in a number of Greek rituals and cultural expressions. Human sacrifice has been practiced in Mesoamerica for over 1500 years. It has increased, and the amount of territory controlled in Mesoamerica has increasingly expounded, assuring a tremendous growth in tributary payments to the capital and its royal families. The Mesoamerican religious traditions did not only seek substitutes for human “debt payments” or sublimate in rituals their aggressive drives toward humans in ways that eliminated human sacrifice, as many other peoples did.
Globalization has affected indigenous peoples and their traditional cultures in significant ways. Throughout the world, some 190 million people are identified by religious cultures that are variously known as “native,” “indigenous,” “local,” and “ethnic” religions. These are the native people of North and South America, Siberia and Northern Europe, and the tribal peoples of Africa, India, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. In an era of globalization, great numbers of these people have been obliged to leave their rural home territories to live in urban milieus or to migrate as emigrants or refugees to foreign countries, where they live in new environments in newly established groups with strange neighbors. This global diaspora of native peoples greatly affects their religious life because their spirituality is ordinarily not conveyed through organizations and ideologies. In general, there has been little knowledge of and interest in the huge diversity of the “ethnic religions” to be found around the world.