Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology. Asian Studies: General Asian Studies. Sociology: General Sociology. You may purchase this title at these fine bookstores. Outside the USA, see our international sales information.
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Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology. Asian Studies: General Asian Studies. Sociology: General Sociology. You may purchase this title at these fine bookstores.
Outside the USA, see our international sales information. University of Chicago Press: E. About Contact News Giving to the Press. The Science of Walking Andreas Mayer. Picturing Political Power Allison K. Surroundings Etienne S. Crusade for Justice Ida B.
The great pilgrimage center of southeastern Sri Lanka, Kataragama, has become in recent years the spiritual home of a new class of Hindu-Buddhist religious devotees. These ecstatic priests and priestesses invariably display long locks of matted hair, and they express their devotion to the gods through fire walking, tongue-piercing, hanging on hooks, and trance-induced prophesying.
The increasing popularity of these ecstatics poses a challenge not only to orthodox Sinhala Buddhism the official religion of Sri Lanka but also, as Gananath Obeyesekere shows, to the traditional anthropological and psychoanalytic theories of symbolism. Focusing initially on one symbol, matted hair, Obeyesekere demonstrates that the conventional distinction between personal and cultural symbols is inadequate and naive.
His detailed case studies of ecstatics show that there is always a reciprocity between the personal-psychological dimension of the symbol and its public, culturally sanctioned role.
In its analyses of the symbolism of guilt, the adaptational and integrative significance of belief in spirits, and a host of related issues concerning possession states and religiosity, this book marks a provocative advance in psychological anthropology. Table of Contents. Chicago Blog. Sign Up.
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With Imagining Karma, Gananath Obeyesekere embarks on the very first comparison of rebirth concepts across a wide range of cultures. Exploring in rich detail the beliefs of small-scale societies of West Africa, Melanesia, traditional Siberia, Canada, and the northwest coast of North America, Obeyesekere compares their ideas with those of the ancient and modern Indic civilizations and with the Greek rebirth theories of Pythagoras, Empedocles, Pindar, and Plato. His groundbreaking and authoritative discussion decenters the popular notion that India was the origin and locus of ideas of rebirth. As Obeyesekere compares responses to the most fundamental questions of human existence, he challenges readers to reexamine accepted ideas about death, cosmology, morality, and eschatology. Obeyesekere's comprehensive inquiry shows that diverse societies have come through independent invention or borrowing to believe in reincarnation as an integral part of their larger cosmological systems.
Professor Obeyesekere completed a B. D at the University of Washington. In the s he entered into a well-known intellectual debate with Marshall Sahlins over the rationality of indigenous peoples. The debate was carried out through an examination of the details of Captain James Cook's death in the Hawaiian Islands in At the heart of the debate was how to understand the rationality of indigenous people. Obeyesekere insisted that indigenous people thought in essentially the same way as Westerners and was concerned that any argument otherwise would paint them as "irrational" and "uncivilized". In contrast Sahlins argued that each culture may have different types of rationality that make sense of the world by focusing on different patterns and explain them within specific cultural narratives, and that assuming that all cultures lead to a single rational view is a form of eurocentrism.
National Library of Australia. Search the catalogue for collection items held by the National Library of Australia. Read more Obeyesekere, Gananath. The apotheosis of Captain Cook : European mythmaking in the Pacific. Princeton, N. Request this item to view in the Library's reading rooms using your library card.