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Contemporary Anthropology of Religion

The Weight of the Past

Living with History in Mahajanga, Madagascar

Authors: Lambek, M.

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eBook $59.99
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  • ISBN 978-1-349-73080-3
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Softcover $74.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-4039-6068-9
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About this book

In The Weight of the Past , Michael Lambek explores the complex ways that history shapes, constrains, and enables daily life. Focusing on ritual performances of spirit mediumship in a multifaceted religious landscape, Lambek's analysis reveals the multiple ways that Sakalava 'bear' history. In Mahajanga, Madagascar, to bear history is at once a weighty obligation, a creative re-birthing, a scrupulous cultivation, and an exuberant performance of the past. To bear history is to serve and to suffer it, but also to be informed, enlightened, and sanctified. Royal ancestors emerge in spirit mediums to comment on the present from multiple voices and generate a refracted, ironic historical consciousness. This book describes the division of labour, creative production (poiesis), and ethical practice (phronesis) entailed in imagining, embodying, and serving the past. It is at once a vivid ethnography of Sakalava life and a significant intervention in anthropological debates on culture and history, structure and practice, advocating a theoretical approach informed by Aristotelian categories of understanding. Ethnographically rich and engagingly written, this book will be essential reading for courses in the anthropology of religion, ritual, or historical consciousness.

About the authors

MICHAEL LAMBEK is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Human Spirits: A Cultural Account of Trance in Mayotte.

Table of contents (12 chapters)

  • Bearing Sakalava History: A Glossary of Key Terms

    Lambek, Michael

    Pages 3-19

  • Into the Maze: Surface and Center, Place, Person, and Potency

    Lambek, Michael

    Pages 21-47

  • The Sakalava Poiesis of History: Realizing the Past through Spirit Possession

    Lambek, Michael

    Pages 49-70

  • Mechanical Division: Structure and History in the Northwest

    Lambek, Michael

    Pages 73-95

  • The Legacy of Lord Diviner, Ndramisara: Organic Division, “Kindedness,” and Sakalava Subjects

    Lambek, Michael

    Pages 97-123

Buy this book

eBook $59.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-349-73080-3
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Softcover $74.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-4039-6068-9
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.

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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
The Weight of the Past
Book Subtitle
Living with History in Mahajanga, Madagascar
Authors
Series Title
Contemporary Anthropology of Religion
Copyright
2002
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan US
Copyright Holder
Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Nature America Inc.
eBook ISBN
978-1-349-73080-3
DOI
10.1007/978-1-349-73080-3
Softcover ISBN
978-1-4039-6068-9
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XXI, 319
Topics