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Lamas, Shamans and Ancestors

Village Religion in Sikkim

Series:

Anna Balikci

This careful study of the co-existence over time of Buddhism and shamanism among the Lhopo (Bhutia) people of Sikkim sheds new light on their supposedly hostile relationship. It examines the working relationships between Buddhist lamas and practitioners of bon, taking into consideration the sacred history of the land as well as its more recent political and economic transformation. Their interactions are presented in terms of the contexts in which lamas and shamans meet, these being rituals of the sacred land, of the individual and household, and of village and state. Village lamas and shamans are shown to share a conceptual view of reality which is at the base of their amiable coexistence. In contrast to the hostility which, the recent literature suggests, characterizes the lama-shaman relationship, their association reveals that the real confrontation occurs when village Buddhism is challenged by its conventional counterpart.

Beyond Caste

Identity and Power in South Asia, Past and Present

Series:

Sumit Guha

'Caste' is today almost universally perceived as an ancient and unchanging Hindu institution preserved solely by a deep-seated religious ideology. Yet the word itself is an importation from sixteenth-century Europe. This book tracks the long history of the practices amalgamated under this label and shows their connection to changing patterns of social and political power down to the present. It frames caste as an involuted and complex form of ethnicity and explains why it persisted under non-Hindu rulers and in non-Hindu communities across South Asia.

Annexation and the Unhappy Valley

The Historical Anthropology of Sindh’s Colonization

Series:

Matthew A. Cook

Annexation and the Unhappy Valley: The Historical Anthropology of Sindh’s Colonization addresses the nineteenth century expansion and consolidation of British colonial power in the Sindh region of South Asia. It adopts an interdisciplinary approach and employs a fine-grained, nuanced and situated reading of multiple agents and their actions. It explores how the political and administrative incorporation of territory (i.e., annexation) by East India Company informs the conversion of intra-cultural distinctions into socio-historical conflicts among the colonized and colonizers. The book focuses on colonial direct rule, rather than the more commonly studied indirect rule, of South Asia. It socio-culturally explores how agents, perspectives and intentions vary—both within and across regions—to impact the actions and structures of colonial governance.