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Fiestas in Central Mexico
Mexico is famous for spectacular fiestas that embody its heart and soul. An expression of the cult of the saint, patron saint fiestas are the centerpiece of Mexican popular religion and of great importance to the lives and cultures of people and communities. These fiestas have their own language, objects, belief systems, and practices. They link Mexico’s past and present, its indigenous and European populations, and its local and global relations. This work provides a comprehensive study of two intimately linked patron saint fiestas in the state of Guanajuato, near San Miguel de Allende—the fiesta of the village of Cruz del Palmar and that of the town of San Luis de la Paz. These two fiestas are related to one another in very special ways involving both religious practices and their respective pre-Hispanic origins. A mixture of secular and sacred, patron saint fiestas are multi-day affairs that include many events, ritual specialists, and performers, with the participation of the entire community. Fiestas take place in order to honor the saints, and they are the occasion for religious ceremonies, processions, musical performances, dances, and dance dramas. They feature spectacular costumes, enormous puppets, masked and cross-dressed individuals, dazzling fireworks, rodeos, food stands, competitions, and public dances. By encompassing all of these events and performances, this work displays the essence of Mexico, a lens through which this country’s complex history, religion, ethnic mix, traditions, and magic can be viewed.
Anthropological Experiences in Dining from Around the World
"These essays' personal aspects invite readers to reflect critically on and react differently to the situations in which the authors find themselves. Reader reactions to the various situations and issues presented could-and should-range from the appreciative to the indignant and promote deeper inquiry." —Susan Tax Freeman, Journal of Anthropological Research
Anthropologists training to do fieldwork in far-off, unfamiliar places prepare for significant challenges with regard to language, customs, and other cultural differences. However, like other travelers to unknown places, they are often unprepared to deal with the most basic and necessary requirement: food. Although there are many books on the anthropology of food, Adventures in Eating is the first intended to prepare students for the uncomfortable dining situations they may encounter over the course of their careers. Whether sago grubs, jungle rats, termites, or the pungent durian fruit are on the table, participating in the act of sharing food can establish relationships vital to anthropologists' research practices and knowledge of their host cultures. Using their own experiences with unfamiliar-and sometimes unappealing-food practices and customs, the contributors explore such eating moments and how these moments can produce new understandings of culture and the meaning of food beyond the immediate experience of eating it. They also address how personal eating experiences and culinary dilemmas can shape the data and methodologies of the discipline. The main readership of Adventures in Eating will be students in anthropology and other scholars, but the explosion of food media gives the book additional appeal for fans of No Reservations and Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel.
The Wailing Culture of Yemenite Jewish Women
The term “wailing culture” includes an array of women’s behaviors and beliefs following the death of a member of their ethnic group and is typical of Jewish life in Yemeni culture. Central to the practice is wailing itself—a special artistic genre that combines speech with sobbing into moving lyrical poetry that explores the meaning of death and loss. In Aesthetics of Sorrow: The Wailing Culture of Yemenite Jewish Women, Tova Gamliel decodes the cultural and psychological meanings of this practice in an ethnography based on her anthropological research among Yemenite Jewish communities in Israel in 2001–2003. Based on participant-observervation in homes of the bereaved and on twenty-four in-depth interviews with wailing women and men, Gamliel illuminates wailing culture level by level: by the circles in which the activity takes place; the special areas of endeavor that belong to women; and the broad social, historical, and religious context that surrounds these inner circles. She discusses the main themes that define the wailing culture (including the historical origins of women’s wailing generally and of Yemenite Jewish wailing in particular), the traits of wailing as an artistic genre, and the wailer as a symbolic type. She also explores the role of wailing in death rituals, as a therapeutic expertise endowed with unique affective mechanisms, as an erotic performance, as a livelihood, and as an indicator of the Jewish exile. In the end, she considers wailing at the intersection of tradition and modernity and examines the study of wailing as a genuine methodological challenge. Gamliel brings a sensitive eye to the vanishing practice of wailing, which has been largely unexamined by scholars and may be unfamiliar to many outside of the Middle East. Her interdisciplinary perspective and her focus on a uniquely female immigrant cultural practice will make this study fascinating reading for scholars of anthropology, gender, folklore, psychology, performance, philosophy, and sociology.
Health, Disease, Poverty
Affliction inaugurates a novel way of understanding the trajectories of health and disease in the context of poverty. Focusing on low-income neighborhoods in Delhi, it stitches together three different sets of issues. _x000B__x000B_First, it examines the different trajectories of illness: What are the circumstances under which illness is absorbed within the normal and when does it exceed the normal—putting resources, relationships, and even one’s world into jeopardy? _x000B__x000B_A second set of issues involves how different healers understand their own practices. The astonishing range of practitioners found in the local markets in the poor neighborhoods of Delhi shows how the magical and the technical are knotted together in the therapeutic experience of healers and patients. The book asks: What is expert knowledge? What is it that the practitioner knows and what does the patient know? How are these different forms of knowledge brought together in the clinical encounter, broadly defined? How does this event of everyday life bear the traces of larger policies at the national and global levels? _x000B__x000B_Finally, the book interrogates the models of disease prevalence and global programming that emphasize surveillance over care and deflect attention away from the specificities of local worlds. Yet the analysis offered retains an openness to different ways of conceptualizing “what is happening” and stimulates a conversation between different disciplinary orientations to health, disease, and poverty._x000B__x000B_Most studies of health and disease focus on the encounter between patient and practitioner within the space of the clinic. This book privileges, instead, the networks of relations, institutions, and knowledge over which the experience of illness is dispersed. Instead of thinking of illness as an event set apart from everyday life, it shows the texture of everyday life, the political economy of neighborhoods, as well as the dark side of care. It helps us see how illness is bound by the contexts in which it occurs, while also showing how illness transcends these contexts to say something about the nature of everyday life and the making of subjects.
Culture, Diplomacy, and Counterinsurgency
Fernando Gentilini served nearly two years as the civilian representative of NATO in Afghanistan, running a counterinsurgency campaign in the wartorn nation. Afghan Lessons is the fascinating story of his mission, a firsthand view of Afghanistan through a kaleidoscope. He explores Afghan history, literature, tradition, and culture to understand some of the most basic questions of Western involvement: What is the purpose? What does an international presence mean, and how can it help?
Highlights from Afghan Lessons
"This is a book about different worlds, different realities. The reality of everyday life in an unreal world. People that need to be looked after, jobs that need to be done, a country that needs to be restored, all from within the necessary confines of an armed camp. And this in the middle of another reality, which we do not understand, full of things forgotten under decades of war. The keys to this reality lie in the past, perhaps lost." from the Foreword by Robert Cooper
"To tempt me to explore their country, the Afghans kept repeating that there were three different Afghanistans: 'The first is the one you Westerners imagine; another coincides with the city of Kabul; the third is the country of remote provinces, far away from the cities, and of the three, this is the only real Afghanistan.'"
"'There can be no development without security and no security without development.' ... Everyone said it over and over again, both the civilians and the military, but depending on whether it was said by the former or the latter, the emphasis was placed on the first or second part of the slogan. In all honesty this seemingly obvious concept concealed two contrasting ways of seeing things."
Since the publication of the first edition in 1977, Africa has established itself as a leading resource for teaching, business, and scholarship. This fourth edition has been completely revised and focuses on the dynamism and diversity of contemporary Africa. The volume emphasizes contemporary culture–civil and social issues, art, religion, and the political scene–and provides an overview of significant themes that bear on Africa's place in the world. Historically grounded, Africa provides a comprehensive view of the ways that African women and men have constructed their lives and engaged in collective activities at the local, national, and global levels.
Marriage and the Tensions of Belonging in Cameroon
This book deals with love, marriage/family, and witchcraft issues but its central question remains that of whether love without understanding is love. Tackling love from much broader and interdisciplinary angles than just the love-making that most love stories usually focus on, it advances the duo of love and understanding as the foundation of any successful marriage/family. Although Momany is blessed with often easily finding this rare duo, the tensions of belonging in Cameroon have been constant and persistent challenges. The book uniquely raises and brings new and ground-breaking perspectives on its subject-matters, obviously leaving many social scientists with much to do further research on.
The role of the workshop in the creation of African art is the subject of this revelatory book. In the group setting of the workshop, innovation and imitation collide, artists share ideas and techniques, and creative expression flourishes. African Art and Agency from the Workshop examines the variety of workshops, from those which are politically driven or tourist oriented, to those based on historical patronage or allied to current artistic trends. Fifteen lively essays explore the impact of the workshop on the production of artists such as Zimbabwean stone sculptors, master potters from Cameroon, wood carvers from Nigeria, and others from across the continent.
Living the Past Presence in Zimbabwean Heritage
African Cultures, Memory and Space is an impeccable volume that powerfully grapples with a gamut of cultural heritage issues, challenges and problems from a vista of inter- and multi-disciplinary approach. The book, which is designed as a foundational text to the study of culture in ever-changing environments, makes an important argument that the dynamism of culture in highly globalised societies such as that of Zimbabwe can be studied from any perspective, but most importantly through careful examination of cultural elements such as memory, oral history and space, among others. While the book makes special reference to Zimbabwe, it profoundly and audaciously dissect and cut across different geographical and cultural spaces through its penetrating interrogation and scrutiny of different issues commonplace in many African contexts and even beyond. The book, written by scholars from different backgrounds and orientations, should appeal to scholars, researchers and students from various disciplines which include but not limited to Cultural Heritage Studies, Policy Studies, Social-Cultural Anthropology, Sociology, Development Studies and African Studies.
"This volume has much to recommend it -- providing fascinating and stimulating insights into many arenas of material culture, many of which still remain only superficially explored in the archaeological literature." -- Archaeological Review
"... a vivid introduction to the topic.... A glimpse into the unique and changing identities in an ever-changing world." -- Come-All-Ye
Fourteen interdisciplinary essays open new perspectives for understanding African societies and cultures through the contextualized study of objects, treating everything from the production of material objects to the meaning of sticks, masquerades, household tools, clothing, and the television set in the contemporary repertoire of African material culture.