Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Afflictions in the Field: Evil Eye and the Anthropologist

Rose Wellman and Dionisios Kavadias offer a comparative ethnographic study of the evil eye in Iran and Greece. With rich ethnographic detail, the authors convey the ongoing importance of the evil eye as well as the diagnostic approaches and remedies used for removal of this curse. Of particular interest is the way that this complex of notions exists aside from, or sometimes within, orthodox religious practices. Either way, the evil eye conveys a set of concerns related to admiration, envy, and inequality that has played an important role historically, partly because of its ability to continuously update itself to the latest metaphysical constructs.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Power of Communitas

Edith Turner offers an excerpt from the preface of her book, Communitas: The Anthropology of Collective Joy. In the excerpt, she recounts an incident while doing fieldwork among whale hunters in Alaska when a moment of “collective effervescence” was generated by the community in an effort to influence environmental conditions to better support their whale hunting activities.