Matching Items (20)

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Casas Montezumas: chorographies, ancient ruins, and placemaking in the Salt and Gila River valleys, Arizona, 1694-1868

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This dissertation uses the narrative practice of chorography as a genre for assessing the history of placemaking in the Salt and Gila River region of central Arizona from the late

This dissertation uses the narrative practice of chorography as a genre for assessing the history of placemaking in the Salt and Gila River region of central Arizona from the late seventeenth century through the mid-nineteenth century. Chorography concerns the descriptive representation of places in the world, usually of regions associated with a particular nation. Traditionally, chorography has served as a written method for describing geographical places as they existed historically. By integrating descriptions of natural features with descriptions of built features, such as ancient ruins, chorography infuses the physical landscape with cultural and historical meaning. This dissertation relies on a body of Spanish- and English-language chorographies produced across three centuries to interpret how Euro-American descriptions of Hohokam ruins in the Salt and Gila River valleys shaped local placemaking. Importantly, the disparate chorographic texts produced during the late-seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries reflect ‘discursive continuity’—a continuity of thought spanning a long and frequently disregarded period in the history of central Arizona, in which ruminations about the ruins of ancient cities and irrigation canals formed the basis for what people knew, or thought they knew, about the little-known region. When settlers arrived in the newly-formed Arizona Territory in the 1860s to establish permanent settlement in the Salt and Gila River valleys, they brought with them a familiarity with these writings, maps, and other chorographical materials. On one hand, Arizonans viewed the ancient ruins as literal evidence for the region’s agricultural possibilities. On the other hand, Aztec and Cíbola myths associated with the ruins, told and retold by Europeans and Americans during the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries, offered an imaginative context for the establishment and promotion of American settlement in central Arizona.

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Date Created
  • 2017

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The Eki-Beki dispute and the unification of the Gauda Saraswat Brahman caste

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During the early twentieth century, a caste dispute known as the Eki-Beki dispute erupted among a group of historically related Konkani-speaking Brahman castes on the western coast of India. A

During the early twentieth century, a caste dispute known as the Eki-Beki dispute erupted among a group of historically related Konkani-speaking Brahman castes on the western coast of India. A faction among the castes argued that the variously related Konkani-speaking Brahman castes were originally one caste called the Gauda Saraswat Brahman (GSB) caste, which got split into several sub-castes. They further argued that the time had come to unite all these castes into one unified GSB caste. This faction came to be known as the Eki-faction, which meant the unity-faction. The Eki-faction was opposed by the majority of the members of the above-mentioned castes who disagreed with the idea of unification. This opposing faction came to be known as the Beki-faction, i.e. the disunity-faction. Despite the opposition from the majority, the Eki-faction managed to unite these different castes to form the contemporary unified GSB caste. The Gaud Saraswat Brahman caste in its current form is the product of this dispute. The formation of the GSB caste was initiated by members of these castes who had migrated from different rural regions of the western coast of India to the urban center Bombay. The rise of the GSB caste, however, became a contested process. Dominant non-GSB Brahman groups in Bombay discredited the migrants as being outsiders of lower ritual status. The unification movement was also opposed by the majority of these Konkani-speaking castes residing in the rural regions of the west coast of India. The struggle of the urban migrants for unification involved publication of Hindu texts and changes of normative practices, such as dining regulations and marriage arrangements, that affected the long-standing norms of maintaining ritual purity. Despite the opposition, the urban migrants partially succeeded in unifying the variously related Konkani-speaking Brahman castes. My dissertation is a history of this process.

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  • 2018

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Gurucaritra pārāyaṇ: social praxis of religious reading

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This dissertation project addresses one of the most critical problems in the study of religion: how do scriptures acquire significance in religious communities in ways that go beyond the meaning

This dissertation project addresses one of the most critical problems in the study of religion: how do scriptures acquire significance in religious communities in ways that go beyond the meaning of their words? Based on data collected during ethnographic work in Maharashtra, India, in 2011 and 2012, I analyze the complex relationship between a religious text and its readers with reference to ritual reading of the Gurucaritra, a Marathi scripture written in the sixteenth century. I argue that readers of the Gurucaritra create a self-actualized modern religiosity both by interpreting the content of the text and by negotiating the rules of praxis surrounding their reading activity.

In particular, this dissertation analyzes the ways in which members of the Dattatreya tradition in urban Maharashatra ritualize their tradition's central text-- the Gurucaritra--in terms of everyday issues and concerns of the present. Taking inspiration from reader-response criticism, I focus on the pArAyaN; (reading the entire text) of the Gurucaritra, the central scripture of the Dattatreya tradition, in the context of its contemporary readings in Maharashtra. In the process of reading the Gurucaritra, readers become modern by making a conscious selection from their tradition. In the process of approaching their tradition through the text, what they achieve is a sense of continuity and a faith that, if they have the support of the guru, nothing can go wrong. In the process of choosing elements from their tradition, they ultimately achieve a sense of being modern individuals who work out rules of religiosity for themselves.

This dissertation contributes to the study of scriptures in two major ways: first, by bringing forth how religious communities engage with scriptures for reasons other than their comprehension; second, by showing how scriptures can play a crucial role in religious communities in the context of addressing concerns of their present. Thus, this research contributes to the fields of scripture studies, Hinduism, and literary criticism.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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Tł̨ich̨o Dene foodways: hunters, animals, and ancestors

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Tłįchǫ, an indigenous Dene nation of subarctic Canada, maintain subsistence lifestyles based on what they consider traditional foods. Caribou are the primary Tłįchǫ food animal and their reliance on caribou

Tłįchǫ, an indigenous Dene nation of subarctic Canada, maintain subsistence lifestyles based on what they consider traditional foods. Caribou are the primary Tłįchǫ food animal and their reliance on caribou culminates in a complex relationship of give and take. Tłįchǫ demonstrate reciprocity for the caribou to give their flesh to hunters. Caribou populations in Canada’s Northwest Territories have rapidly declined and the government of Canada’s Northwest Territories implemented hunting restrictions in 2010 to protect caribou herds from extinction. Some Tłįchǫ, however, maintain that caribou are in hiding, not decline, and that caribou have chosen to remain inaccessible to humans due to human disrespect toward them. Many Tłįchǫ have responded to hunting restrictions and the lack of caribou by calling for respectful hunting practices to demonstrate to caribou that they are needed and thus resulting in the animal continuing to give itself.

I examine Tłįchǫ responses to contemporary caribou scarcity through three stages of Dene foodways: getting food, sharing food, and returning food and caribou remains back to the land. Analysis of Dene foodways stages reveals complex social relationships between hunters, animals, and other beings in the environment such as ancestors and the land that aids their exchange. Food is integral to many studies of indigenous religions and environmental relations yet the effects of dependence on the environment for food on social dynamics that include human and other beings have not been adequately addressed. Foodways as a component to theories of indigenous environmental relationships explain Tłįchǫ attitudes toward caribou. I draw from my ethnographic research, wherein I lived with Tłįchǫ families, studied the Tłįchǫ language, and participated in Tłįchǫ foodways such as hunting, fishing, and sharing food, to explicate Tłįchǫ foodways in relation to their worldviews and relationships with beings in the environment. I demonstrate how foodways, as an analytical category, offers a glimpse into Dene perceptions of non-human entities as something with which humans relate, while I simultaneously demonstrate the limits of environmental relations. My attention to foodways reveals the necessity of sustenance as a primary motivation for indigenous relationships to other beings, culminating in complex social dynamics.

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Date Created
  • 2015

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Spiritual economy: resources, labor, and exchange in Glastonbury and Sedona

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Current data indicates that a growing number of individuals in the English-speaking world are identifying as “spiritual, but not religious” (SBNR). Using ethnographic data collected at two important sites of

Current data indicates that a growing number of individuals in the English-speaking world are identifying as “spiritual, but not religious” (SBNR). Using ethnographic data collected at two important sites of spiritual pilgrimage and tourism—Glastonbury, England and Sedona, Arizona—this project argues that seekers at these places produce spirituality as much as they consume it. Using the lens of economy, this project examines how seekers conceptualize the (super-) natural resources at these sites, the laborious practices they perform to transform these resources, and the valuation and exchange of the resultant products. In so doing, the project complicates prevailing notions, both among scholars and the public, that contemporary unaffiliated spirituality is predominantly an individualistic consumer process.

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Date Created
  • 2018

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Religion, colonialism, diaspora: the role of the Hindu Swaminarayan sect in Indian migration to Africa and the world

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A new sect of Swaminarayan Hinduism emerged in the late eightieth century. This sect rapidly grew into a global organization due their highly structuralized nature. Fascinatingly, the new sect was

A new sect of Swaminarayan Hinduism emerged in the late eightieth century. This sect rapidly grew into a global organization due their highly structuralized nature. Fascinatingly, the new sect was able to create the feeling of home away from home in multiple countries. Through the establishments of mandirs, Hindu place of worship, practitioners were able to solidify the feeling of home away from home. Through books, magazine articles and letters the evidence of the new sect creating this feeling is overwhelming. Diaspora theory is woven within the thesis due to the global nature of the sect. This thesis uses a broad definition of diaspora to encompass the change in literature due to the ability of one to maintain close ties to their old homeland. The Swaminarayan sect treaded through diaspora by assimilating to their new homeland all the while keeping a close tie with their old homeland.

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  • 2016

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Afghani women's resistance: their struggle for autonomy under the Soviet Occupation and Taliban rule

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The American-led 'war on terror' affected how media outlets and some contemporary literature addressed and stereotyped Islam. One of the most common stereotypes regarded the status of women in society.

The American-led 'war on terror' affected how media outlets and some contemporary literature addressed and stereotyped Islam. One of the most common stereotypes regarded the status of women in society. The constant images of oppressed Afghani women generated a wave of negativity toward Islam. Afghani women were portrayed as passive characters during the Taliban rule awaiting liberation from the west. Defending their rights became one of the moral justifications for waging the 'war on terror' after the tragedy of 9/11. Gender politics in Afghanistan is closely tied to the regime in power. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the social and cultural transformation of society that followed also directly affected women and their identity as Muslims. Both the Soviet and the Taliban regimes envisioned a drastic transformation of women's participation in the public sphere. Each regime's gender politics oppressed Afghani women and sought to take away their agency. Some women welcomed the freedom under the Soviets, but others found the freedoms to be oppressive. The Taliban aimed to preserve men's authority over women. However, Afghani women never gave up the hope of freedom and equality. My main argument is to challenge the contemporary belief that Afghani women were passive characters in their history. This study introduces a fresh perspective on to women's role as change makers in the society. I argue that Afghani women maintained their autonomy and fought for their rights, before the rest of the world rushed to liberate them. They engaged in different forms of resistance from directly attacking the oppressors to keeping their resistance hidden. This thesis challenges the notion of Afghani women as victims in need of saving. On the contrary, they were the agents of change in their communities. On the basis of ethnographic interviews and three memoirs written by women who lived in Afghanistan during Soviet and Taliban rule. Their resistance against the oppressors is an affirmation of their courage and bravery.

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Date Created
  • 2017

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Drenched in the Blood of the Lamb: James Baldwin, Religion, Violence, and Marginalization

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James Baldwin (1924-1987) was one of the most well-known African American fiction and nonfiction writers of the twentieth century. Throughout his life and career, he earned a worldwide reputation as

James Baldwin (1924-1987) was one of the most well-known African American fiction and nonfiction writers of the twentieth century. Throughout his life and career, he earned a worldwide reputation as a respected novelist, memoirist, and essayist who contributed to a wide array of artistic movements and intellectual discourses. Many scholars have noted the particular African American religious and cultural influences upon Baldwin’s work. More recently, scholars have additionally noted the importance of Baldwin’s globally-engaged thought and internationalist life. Throughout all of his work, Baldwin wrote extensively on the subject of religion. This dissertation posits the topics of religion, violence, and marginalization as integral to his nonfiction writings and speeches, particularly after 1967. As such, it argues that Baldwin in his early career established four distinct discourses on morality, evil, scapegoatism, and purity that he came to connect in his later writings on the intersection of religion, violence, and marginalization. Within these writings, Baldwin also displayed a rigorous engagement with multicultural and multireligious artistic and literary canons, along with the evolving academic study of religion. Therefore, not only should the intersection of religion, violence, and marginalization be a central consideration for Baldwin scholarship, but scholars of religion and violence in particular would benefit from engaging Baldwin’s addressment of this intersection.

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  • 2019

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Canaribeñidad:: Interdependencias Identitarias Entre Las Islas Canarias Y El Caribe Hispano A Través De Sus Producciones Literarias Y Culturales

Description

Las Islas Canarias son un archipiélago de la costa africana situado a cien kilómetros de la costa de Marruecos y del Sáhara Occidental. Estas islas fueron conquistadas a finales del

Las Islas Canarias son un archipiélago de la costa africana situado a cien kilómetros de la costa de Marruecos y del Sáhara Occidental. Estas islas fueron conquistadas a finales del siglo XV y son actualmente parte del Estado español, y su posición como punto de paso tricontinental ha facilitado una historia colonial que es paralela a la del Caribe y que está caracterizada por la asimilación de sus poblaciones indígenas, las plantaciones de caña de azúcar y el comercio esclavista atlántico, la emergencia de un Nuevo Mundo, las migraciones constantes desde las Islas Canarias hacia el Caribe, el desarrollo de movimientos independentistas y la turistificación del paraíso caribeño/canario, entre otros aspectos. La identidad de las Islas Canarias, si embargo, ha permanecido en una posición ambigua en la discusión de conceptos de tricontinentalidad o puente entre continentes, cuando estas islas no son simplemente consideradas como una región más de España con ligeras diferencias. Desde el Caribe, varios autores regionales han cuestionado sus propias identidades proponiendo los conceptos de creolización, relación o meta-archipiélago. Las ideas comunes exploradas por intelectuales de ambos archipiélagos incluyen los conceptos de colonialidad, modernidad, mitologización de la isla, fragmentación, atlanticidad, frontera y ultraperiferia, entre otros.

De esta manera, esta tesis doctoral conecta las Islas Canarias y el Caribe a través de la exploración de sus discursos identitarios, y aplica a Canarias las teorías poscoloniales desarrolladas en el Caribe. Partiendo del análisis de diversos trabajos de Fernando Ortiz, Antonio S. Pedreira, Édouard Glissant, Jean Bernabé, Patrick Chamoiseau, Raphael Confiant, Antonio Benítez Rojo, José Luis González, Juan Flores, Gustavo Pérez-Firmat, Walter Mignolo, Enrique Dussel, Gloria Anzaldúa y Juan Manuel García Ramos, entre otros, esta tesis propone el término canaribeñidad para definir el desarrollo bilateral y común de las identidades nacionales en las Islas Canarias y el Caribe, destacando la contribución canaria a la identidad caribeña (la fundación de la literatura cubana, el guajiro/jíbaro, la brujería…) y viceversa (discursos independentistas y nacionalistas, la experiencia diaspórica, la música, el tabaco, el sentido de fraternidad con el Caribe…). El corpus analizado en esta disertación incluye obras literarias transatlánticas, desde las primeras crónicas hasta ejemplos de teatro, novelas, ensayos, artículos periodísticos y poesía de los siglos XVI-XX.

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Date Created
  • 2019

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The history of niddah in America as social drama: genealogy of a ritual practice

Description

Since the 1960’s and 1970’s, ethnographic research on Jewish menstrual rituals known as niddah, Taharat HaMishpacha, or Family Purity has associated their practices with religious behavior. Much of this research

Since the 1960’s and 1970’s, ethnographic research on Jewish menstrual rituals known as niddah, Taharat HaMishpacha, or Family Purity has associated their practices with religious behavior. Much of this research organizes around questions of women’s agency within ostensibly patriarchally constructed religious practices that carry the potential to oppress its women practitioners. This premise is built upon a number of implicit assumptions about the history of today’s niddah practices: that niddah is observed exclusively by Orthodox Jews; that increasing rates of niddah observance correlate exclusively with the trend toward stricter observance levels among the Orthodox since the 1960s; and that this increasingly strict observance itself reflects a reactionary trend among the Orthodox community (a.k.a. tradition versus modernity). All these assumptions currently circulate, in various degrees, among the American Jewish lay community and are shared by a significant number of congregational rabbis. Until the 1990s, no history of niddah existed to either support or refute these assumptions. I initially intended that this project would provide future ethnographers with a comprehensive history of niddah in America during the past one and a half centuries. I engaged Victor Turner’s theory of Social Drama as a framework for understanding this history as a socio-cultural process, rather than as a series of less than related events. However, this study h*as resulted in the identification of many more specific assumptions about the decline and revival of niddah observance in the twentieth century, which are not supported by the scant evidence available. These challenged assumptions beg new directions for research; a thorough reworking of the history of niddah in America; and a fresh look at the literature advocating niddah produced in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. This genealogy as Social Drama presents niddah in twentieth century America as undergoing periods of crisis, negotiation, and reintegration. This drama was triggered by late nineteenth century concepts of religion, body, and ritual that undermined and ruptured the integrity of niddah as a bodily religious ritual practice. Niddah’s twentieth century social drama culminated in fresh articulations of a unique Jewish sexuality and Jewish marital ethic.

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Date Created
  • 2016