Photo by Maria Kastrinou-Theodoropoulou 2009

Special Issue on Political Anthropology and Resistance

Guest Editor: Maria Kastrinou-Theodoropoulou

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Political Anthropology and the Fabrics of Resistance    3-7

Amilla Maria Anthi Kastrinou Theodoropoulou

Research Articles

On Resistance: The Case of 17th Century Quakers    8-22

Peter Collins


Among the most influential theories of political resistance is that of the American political theorist, James C. Scott. Drawing on Scott‘s influential theoretical paradigm I present an historical anthropology of seventeenth century Quakerism, focusing on this religious movement from its genesis in around 1650, to the Act of Toleration in 1689. My intention is to draw on accounts of early Quaker faith and practice in order to interrogate key components of Scott‘s thesis. I conclude that despite the undoubted usefulness of Scott‘s work it is at once both too broad and too narrow and that it should be tested against other, apparently 'marginal‘, cases.  

Ritual as Cultural Reserve among Sicilian Migrants in Germany    23-43

Emanuel Valentin


Different theories have underlined the importance of the seemingly anachronistic revitalisation of traditional forms of saint cults in front of general processes of "overlaying" and "dispersion". Saint cults didn't disappear through modernisation, but created new potential out of it. The recourse on saint cult and on seemingly anachronistic practices acts in this context and especially in times of crisis as break handle, as counter reaction to globalization, as cultural "reserve". The notion of "reserve" - which stands in the vicinity to notions of "resistance", "archaism", "counter culture", "fundamentalism" and "regional/local obstinacy" ñ refers to a seemingly authentic behaviour, which is oriented to local forms and which is rooted in a back dated culture, social structure and economy. It isn't simply a "survival" of the old but has to be seen as a hybrid reaction to actual processes. I follow an approach which understands the saint cult on the local level as result of a dialectical process between resistance and overlay. In this sense I interpret also the recourse on traditional folklore of communitarian and participative character and the reinforced significance of ritual revitalisation in the migration. So as the oscillation between home and host society, the foundation of ethnic associations or traditional food habits, which can work as identity anchor and as strategies of resistance against uniforming processes of adaptation in the migration, the saint cult acts as a "reserve", bearing the potential to dampen the cultural effects of the migration crisis and the alienation from the home society.

Contracts with Satan: Relations with 'Spirit Owners' and Apprehensions of the Economy among the Coastal Miskitu of Nicaragua    44-53

Mark Jamieson


This article examines the role of the 'spirit owners' or dawanka who among the Miskitu control supplies of fish and game, as well as access to other goods. Whereas the existing literature on relations between similar beings and other Amerindian peoples tends to demonstrate a balanced or generalised reciprocity emphasising social reproduction, those between dawanka and the Miskitu of Kakabila are often mutually exploitative and destructive. The article considers the region's socio-economic history, changing conceptions of personhood, and materials gleaned from fieldwork, concluding that present-day perceptions of dawanka and other ëmythical' beings frequently represent a fear of the individualistic and selfishly motivated forms of exchange which many see as having come to replace those that are socially reproductive.

Gandhi's Dream of Hindu-Muslim Unity and its two Offshoots in the Middle East    54-66

Simone Panter-Brick


This article is a historical exploration of some of Gandhi's attempts to unite the Hindu and Muslim populations of India, as well as his political experiments with non-violent resistance. It provides an outline of the period beginning from his first campaign in South Africa to the eve of the Second World War. In light of Gandhi's dream to unite Muslims and Hindus, his defiance to British imperialism, and the results of his political struggles, it presents aspects of the Mahatma's political maneuvering that remain largely unknown until this day ñ a secret episode still shrouded in mystery. His intervention in the Arab-Israeli conflict in Palestine has been kept a carefully guarded secret, decades after Gandhi's assassination. Within the historical and political timeline of Gandhi's political actions, within and outside India, this article analyses the conditions that led him to intervene in Palestinian affairs, his expectations thereof, and the outcomes of his endeavours.

Psychedelic Trance: ritual, belief and transcendental experience in modern raves    67-74

Panagiotis Papadimitropoulos


Ethnographic fieldwork in various non-industrialised societies around the globe has demonstrated that dance is often related to trance: states of mind in which ordinary conscious awareness is usually partly and temporarily suspended. In these ethnographic instances, trance states are institutionalised and form a part of the religious norm. There, it appears that trance- induced naturally or chemically with certain drugs- is related to possession by spirits and deities and thus is an instrument of ritualistic and religious importance because it provides the basis for experiencing the ësacred' or the ësupernatural'. But what happens in a western cultural context when, usually, young people gather in so-called ëraves' and dance non-stopped within a large crowd, often under the influence of psychedelic drugs? This introductory paper focuses on the description of the "psychedelic trance" subculture, in relation to the contexts of its historical socio-cultural emergence, past and present perceptions of shamanistic cultures, and to brain cognition.

Book Reviews

Kapferer, Bruce, and Bjorn Enge Bertelsen (eds). 2009. Crisis of the State: War and Social Upheaval. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books.    75-76

Reviewed by Julian Kotzé


Contents - Volume 16 Issue 2