Assignment Seven – Research Proposal
Read about writing research proposals (Unit Fourteens). Choose a research topic. Write a research proposal for doing research on your chosen topic. Share your research proposal in the class’s Dropbox or email it to me.
Read about museum anthropology and analysis of museums and museum collections (Unit Eleven and related articles in the class’s Dropbox). Visit a museum of your choice and write about it from a cultural anthropological perspective. Share your text in your assignment file in the class’s Dropbox or email it to me.
My suggestion is to write about the Georgian Museum of Ethnography after reading the following:
The Other on Dispaly: Translation in the Ethnographic Museum – Sturge
Read about discourse analysis, visual analysis, and media analysis (Units Eight, Nine, and Ten).
Analyze a written text on elections and democracy, an election poster, and an election related video (in Georgia, Armenia, or Azerbaijan). Share the results of your analyses in your assignments Dropbox file or email them to me. You can choose your model of discourse analysis and apply it in your assignment.
Read about Case Study in Anthropology (Unit Seven) and narrative analysis (Unit Eight).
The focus of this assignment is on studying the Rose Revolution in Georgia.
Conduct at least two in-depth interviews about the Rose Revolution. Make sure to interview people who were at least 30 years old when the collapse of the Soviet Union started (late 1980s or early 1990s). Try to choose people of different background for your interviews. You can use the semi-structured interview format for this assignment. Start by having a list of questions that you might want to ask during your interviews. You can either share the results of your interviews and your reflections on the interview processes in the class’s Dropbox in your assignments file, or you can email me the assignment. Also add a list of other sources, in addition to interviews, that you could use to gather information about the Rose Revolution. Try to rely upon what you have learned by studying the case study method in writing this assignment.
Read about doing life-history/life-story article (Unit Six).
Base on what you have learned from Unit Six readings conduct at least one life-history/life-story interviews with somebody who is sixty or older.
Share the results of your biographical interview(s) and your reflections on the interview process(es) in the class’s Dropbox in your own file for assignments or email them to me.
Read abut ind-depth interviewing (Unit Five)
Based on what you learned from reading about in-depth interviewing, carry out at least two in-depth either unstructured or semi-structured interview about religion and religious rituals during the Soviet times. Try to choose your interviewees from people of different backgrounds (gender, social position, or geographical location during the Soviet times, …). Make sure that the interviewees are old enough to have experienced living during the Soviet times as adults (50 or older at present).
Share the results of your in-depth interviews with your reflections on the interview process in the class’s Dropbox in your own file, or email them to me.
Read about ethical issues of doing anthropological research (Unit Two).
Read the following article on Observation and Participant Observation (Unit Four)
Participant Observation as a Data Collection Method
Based on what you have learned from the above articles, observe, or observe and participate in a series of rituals related to Easter. Then write your notes about your observations (you can also share your pictures, videos, or tape recordings). Make sure to include your thoughts about the ethical aspects of your research. Be specific about time and place of the rituals that you observed.
Choose a focus for your research (e.g., music, food and drink, embodiment, gender, generation, family and kinship, place/space, power and politics, performance, ethnicity, nationalism, ….)
Share the result of your research with your reflections on the data-gathering process in the class’s Dropbox. Create one file under your name for all your assignments and add to your file as you do more assignments. You can also email me your assignment if you wish.
The following works are examples of how the Easter rituals are studied by anthropologists and religious studies scholars.
1) The Royal Easter Ritual and Political Actions in Swaziland.
Hebron Luhlanya Ndlovu.
2) Cosmic Clowns. Convention, Invention, and Inversion in the Yaqui Easter Ritual.
3) A Tale of Easter Ovens: Food and Collective Memory
4) EXPLOSIVE DEBATES: DYNAMITE, TRADITION, AND THE STATE.
The Royal Easter Ritual and Political Actions in Swaziland
Hebron Luhlanya Ndlovu
This work focuses on the meaning and role of the royal Easter ritual in post-colonial Swaziland (1968-1992). I pay special attention to the relationship between the royal Easter ritual and political actions undertaken by many Swazi urban commoners who oppose the current absolute rule of the monarchy in modern Swazi society.
The thesis of this study is two-fold. First, I interpret the royal Easter ritual as an invented tradition which reinforces the continuing conflict between the monarchy and many urban commoners in post-colonial Swaziland. The second contention is that this new royal tradition has been consistently resisted by most mission Christians through symbolic, covert social actions which include non-participation in the ceremony, and polemical discourses. I argue that this covert contestation of the new royal tradition by most mission Christians is concurrent with other subtle as well as overt political actions pursued by many urban commoners who are opposed to the absolute rule of the monarchy in post-colonial Swaziland.
This work makes a significant contribution to scholarship on the role of religion and royal rituals in Swazi society. In contrast to existing works on the royal Easter ritual which over-emphasize the integrative role of the ritual, this study demonstrates the inadvertent, dysfunctional role of this ritual in exacerbating the polarization between the monarchy and many urban commoners in contemporary Swazi society.
In addition, this work constitutes a peculiar, yet familiar case study which reflects the key themes in current anthropological and interdisciplinary studies of ritual and religion, namely: divine kingship, the global process of the invention of tradition, resistance to political domination through religious symbols, and the politics of mission churches.
Ndlovu, Hebron Luhlanya, “The Royal Easter Ritual and Political Actions in Swaziland” (1993).Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 3171.
Cosmic Clowns. Convention, Invention, and Inversion in the Yaqui Easter Ritual.
Research Series in Anthropology. University of Helsinki
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Studies, Social and Cultural Anthropology
Doctoral dissertation (monograph)
Abstract: Cosmic Clowns: Convention, Invention, and Inversion in the Yaqui Easter Ritual is an ethnographic study of masked clown figures called Chapayekas. They represent Judas and the Roman soldiers in the Passion play that forms the narrative core of the Easter ritual of the Yaquis, an indigenous group in Sonora, Mexico. The study looks at how the Chapayeka is created as a ritual figure, how their performance is constructed, and what the part of the clown is in the dynamics of the ritual. The material was gathered over three periods of anthropological fieldwork in Cócorit, Sonora during Easter in 2004, 2006 and 2007.The Chapayeka masks portray foreigners, animals, mythological figures, and even figures from television and movies. They combine two kinds of performance: they perform set, conventional actions, and improvise and invent new ones. This creates dialectics of invention and convention that allow the figure to mediate between the ritual and its context and different kinds of beings within the Yaqui cosmology. The conventional side of their performance is a cycle of death and rebirth that is an inversion of the cycle of Jesus. Through invention, they separate themselves from the other performers and make themselves powerful. Alternation between the two modes enhances that power and brings it into the conventions of the ritual; ultimately the Chapayekas revitalize the entire ritual. The study finds that the clowns are extremely important to the continuity of both ritual and culture, as the combination of continuity and change, convention and invention, is what makes it possible to recreate the conventions of Yaqui culture as powerful and compelling in various contexts. Another factor is the prevalence of dialectical mediation, which relates concepts by defining them against each other as opposites, and makes it possible to cross a boundary while keeping it intact. Clowns embody and create dialectics to mediate boundaries while guarding against relativization, the disappearance of distinctions. The Chapayekas create and constitute boundaries between the self and other, microcosm and macrocosm, sacred and profane.
The study argues that all clown and trickster figures are characterized by constantly alternating between invention and convention; this is what connects them to the collective and moral aspect of culture and, at the same time, makes them unpredictable and powerful. It is possible to do justice to the opposed aspects of these ambiguous and paradoxical figures by taking into account the different foundations and contextual effects of the different modes of symbolization.
Easter, Food, and Social Memory
A Tale of Easter Ovens: Food and Collective Memory
Sutton, David. Social Research. 75. 1 (Spring 2008): 157-0_3.
AT A TIME WHEN DRINKS AVAILABLE IN GAS STATION COOLERS PROMISE exotic ingredients to boost your memory powers, my own interest in food and memory meets with bemusement from Mends and colleagues.* Both the study of food and of memory are relatively recent subjects in anthropology and social science more generally, and thus their convergence still provokes surprise and curiosity. The power of these memories is that they unite very different levels of experience, whether we think of them as mind and body or sensory and social, or something else; they move seamlessly between taste and social relationships, and this wholeness allows them to stand for and powerfully evoke entire periods of time-“the good old days,” “childhood years”-and thus capture individual biographies and collective identities.
Full Text in the Class’s Dropbox
Power and Politics, Identity
EXPLOSIVE DEBATES: DYNAMITE, TRADITION, AND THE STATE.
Anthropological Quarterly, 1996, Vol. 69, Issue 2
Since the early 1960s the ritual throwing of dynamite bombs at Easter has become a regular practice on the island of Kalymnos in the Eastern Aegean. Although this practice cuts across most social divisions on the island, its significance and value are hotly debated by Kalymnians. In this article I examine both the explicit debate over whether dynamite throwing is or is not a “Kalymnian custom,” and more implicit discourses that concern Kalymnian attitudes towards the Greek State and other outside forces. I suggest that both explicit and inventionimplicit discourses are part of a process by which Kalymnians are attempting to define their identity and “distinctiveness” in relationship to what they see as homogenizing forces of “modernity.”
Full Text in the Class’s Dropbox