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By Bruce Kapferer

Sorcery has lengthy been linked to the "dark facet" of human improvement. in addition to magic and witchcraft, it truly is assumed to be irrational and antithetical to trendy suggestion. yet within the dinner party of the Sorcerer, Bruce Kapferer argues that sorcery practices show serious insights into how attention is shaped and the way people represent their social and political realities.Kapferer specializes in sorcery between Sinhalese Buddhists in Sri Lanka to discover how the paintings of sorcery is actually deeply hooked up to social practices and lived studies resembling delivery, loss of life, affliction, and struggle. He describes in nice aspect the critical ritual of exorcism, a examine which opens up new avenues of suggestion that problem anthropological methods to such issues because the mental forces of emotion and the dynamics of energy. Overcoming either "orientalist" bias and postmodern permissiveness, Kapferer compellingly reframes sorcery as a practical, wide awake perform which, via its dynamic of destruction and construction, allows for people to reconstruct time and again their relation to the realm.

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Extra resources for The feast of the sorcerer: practices of consciousness and power

Sample text

This is an argument that I develop in subsequent chap­ ters ( see Chapters 6, 7, 8 ) . The dynamics apparent for Europe are comparable i n certain respects to the witch-cleansing cults described for Africa and Melanesia ( e . g . , Marwick I 9 5 0; Willis I 9 6 8 ; Williams I 9 7 6 ) . These movements occurred at moments of political and economic transformation and were connected with realignments in the boundaries and structures of power. As in Eu­ rope, they gained legitimacy both within traditional sorcery beliefs and practices and within other ideological forces such as Christianity, which provided a bulwark for colonial power and sometimes the basis of resis­ tance to it and also to later organizations of state control.

There are indications of parallels between these processes and later state and popular support for human destruction and discrimi­ nation. The examples are �azi Germany and the events in other European countries both before and after the Second World War. The point is not that sorcery and witchcraft beliefs are implicated in later human catastro­ phes but that aspects of the social and political dynamic that appears around them are similar. The processes of sorcery yield an insight into apparently unrelated events.

Methodologically, there is merit to this position. The term sorcery as a descriptive label can group together, even for one context, a highly diverse set of practices that may not be reducible into one term. What I class as sorcery among Sinhalese Buddhists is highly diverse and has some of this methodological difficulty. However, there are at least two popular indigenous terms frequently used interchangeably (huniyam and kodi­ vina; see chapter 2) that are used by Sinhalese for most events that I have broadly defined as sorcery.

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