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Esther Eidinow

Abstract

This article discusses the challenges facing scholars exploring the nature of belief in ancient Greek religion. While recent scholarship has raised questions about individual religious activities, and work on ritual, the body, and the senses has broadened our methodological palette, the nature and dynamics of generally held “low intensity” beliefs still tend to be described simply as “unquestioned” or “embedded” in society. But examining scholarship on divine personifications suggests that ancient beliefs were — and our perceptions of them are — more complex. This article first explores the example of Tyche (“Chance”), in order to highlight some of the problems that surround the use of the term “belief.” It then turns to the theories of “ideology” of Slavoj Žižek and Robert Pfaller and argues that these can offer provocative insights into the nature and dynamics of ritual and belief in ancient Greek culture.

Arresting Alternatives

Religious Prejudice and Bacchantic Worship in Greek Literature

Marika Rauhala

Abstract

Ancient Greek descriptions of ecstatic and mystic rituals, here broadly labeled as Bacchantic worship, regularly include elements of moral corruption and dissolution of social unity. Suspicions were mostly directed against unofficial cult groups that exploited Dionysiac experiences in secluded settings. As the introduction of copious new cults attests, Greek religion was receptive to external influences. This basic openness, however, was not synonymous with tolerance, and pious respect for all deities did not automatically include their worshippers. This article reconsiders the current view of ancient religious intolerance by regarding these negative stereotypes as expressions of prejudice and by investigating the social dynamics behind them. Prejudices against private Bacchantic groups are regarded as part of the process of buttressing the religious authority of certain elite quarters in situations where they perceive that their position is being threatened by rival claims. It is suggested that both the accentuation and alleviation of prejudice is best understood in relation to the relative stability of the elite and the religious control it exerted.

Edited by Dikaia Chatziefstathiou and Andrea Kathryn Talentino

Being Asylum Seekers in Hong Kong

Institutions, Action and Power

Kerry J. Kennedy, Kin Loon Wong and Hoi-Yu Ng

Abstract

Most discourse related to refugees has been and continues to be related to humanitarian issues. Yet, humanitarianism as a theoretical framing is no longer sufficient for understanding refugee-fuelled migration. The politics of such migration currently dominate policy discourse and Hong Kong is no exception. Asylum seekers continue to seek refuge in a city that neither wants them, nor is sympathetic towards them. The study reported here seeks to understand this context from the point of view of asylum seekers and their supporters in the community and offers an alternative theoretical framework that reflects Hong Kong asylum seekers’ experiences. A qualitative methodology was employed to understand the contexts and asylum seeker experiences. Results indicated that extraordinary institutional pressure is exerted on asylum seekers who cannot settle in Hong Kong but who, in the meantime, are forced to rely on inadequate social protection to survive.