Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Church-Museum: Context and (Dis)connection in Public Religion

Alexandra Antohin explores the museum-ification of churches in Ethiopia, Russia and the U.S. and how exhibitions and tours of religious significance establish active reference points for new forms of public engagement. Antohin draws upon her experience of these sites as well as contextualization theory to explore how religious media are included in the interpretative space of ‘church-museums’. She suggests that in Ethiopia, where tourism is still a new industry, multiple subjectivities and modes of interpretation may emerge through the display and reception of religious media in a public context.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Between Temples and Toilets: Sanitation Worship in India

Jacqueline Cieslak artfully describes the complicated relationships between sanitation, reverence, and political contrivance in contemporary India. Cieslak focuses on the phenomenon of ‘The Toilet’ and its objectification as artefact and cultural institution. She argues that officials have not simply recruited religious imagery but that sanitation itself has become an object of worship.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Category of Person

Rane Willerslev reviews Yukaghir notions of personhood in this excerpt from his book, Soul Hunters: Hunting, Animism, and Personhood Among the Siberian Yukaghirs. Yukaghir hunters have sophisticated knowledge of the behaviors of the many species of animals they interact with in northeastern Siberia which helps them characterize these beings along a continuum of personhood; humans being just one among many varieties of persons. These rich and varied conceptualizations ramify more basic ideas about animism, demonstrating how indigenous traditions can be labeled "animistic" as a useful generalization, though this rarely means the same thing across different societies.