As in other ancient states, Inca religious reform was largely successful because it drew upon preexisting cosmological principles of the south-central Andes. In this case study involving the Cotahuasi Valley of southern Peru, I argue that during the Inca occupation of the valley, an offering tradition ended, an important ritual center was abandoned, and another ritual center was completely remodeled. At the same time, other local ritual practices continued largely unmolested. I suggest that the Inca chose to encourage these changes in Cotahuasi because the ritual landscape that the Inca encountered in the valley caused political and ideological problems that could not be overcome without changing some aspects of the valley’s religion. These reforms were successful because they fit within a concept of circulating life forces that was shared by both conquerors and conquered. I suggest that this belief was a resilient long-term structure of meaning that was, and remains, part of the region’s practical consciousness.
In an attempt to demystify the postrevolutionary Mexican state, this article examines the role of religious confraternities in the formation of a new hegemonic order. Based on ethnographic and historical research in Maxcanú (a mestizo town in Yucatán), I argue that religious confraternities not only helped revive invidious distinctions between groups following the demise of the Porfirian state but sanctified them within a field of custom, festivity, and communal obligation. Although participation in these confraternities (gremios) is voluntary, the linkage between gremio activities and public acts of contrition made participation in Maxcanú’s hierarchically ordered confraternities a virtual obligation. Finally, while noting that the town’s religious hierarchy has undergone important changes in recent years, I argue that the most prestigious gremio still serves as a vehicle through which upwardly mobile residents shed their parvenu status and fashion a more respectable past.
Susan J. Rasmussen
The verbal art performances of Tuareg smith women—in praise songs, dance, joking, and, more recently, in media such as radio—are becoming more complex, as their messages and styles articulate with wider audiences and changing social relationships, in particular those involving gender and relations between the sexes. This essay analyzes gendered discourses in female smiths’ performances, with particular emphasis on a radio narrative in Agadez, Niger, and a rural wedding praise performance in the Aïr Mountains region. As female smiths perform alongside male smiths at rural rites of passage, they mediate important concerns of not solely their noble patrons but also Tuareg women. In urban, multiethnic settings, smith women’s messages and roles are changing, particularly in new technologies, such as radio, deployed by elite feminist organizations to advance their own agendas for gender and socioeconomic change. More broadly, continuities and transformations in smith women’s verbal art performances provide new perspectives on cultural mediators and gendered discourses in multiple modernities.
Edward O. Henry
In this “modern” rite in the Hindu wedding in eastern North India, the unveiled (!) bride garlands the groom, and he garlands her. Most local people think this is a display for prestige or associate it with two myths involving the svayamvar (a contest for the hand of the bride). More-informed/thoughtful local observers point out significant inconsistencies: in neither myth does the groom garland the bride, and the freedom from purdah (including veiling) in the Jayamāla is contradicted in the following rites. The equal ranking suggested by mutual garlanding as viewed through French structuralism is contradicted by local interpretation, in which the garlanding by the groom is completely ignored. The increasing adoption of the Jayamāla rite exemplifies “agency,” as conceptualized in Linton’s model of culture change decades before its (re-)discovery.
Reed L. Wadley
Lethal treachery is distinguished by the necessity of deceptively peaceful social interaction between attacker and victim immediately prior to an assault. Aggressors may make deliberate plans to attack opponents during peacemaking ceremonies or fall opportunistically upon noncombatants during seemingly friendly encounters. As with other forms of ambush, the tactic increases the vulnerability of victims while reducing that of the attackers. Ethnographic data from a cross-cultural survey show that lethal treachery has been an occasional, though very successful, tactic in armed conflicts but has been a generally overlooked aspect of warfare and feuding. Its consistency with Wrangham’s problematical imbalance-of-power hypothesis is only apparent and is assessed with regard to conventional animal conflict models.
Exchanging the Past: A Rainforest World
Before and After. Bruce M. Knauft. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 2002, 303 pp. $55.00, cloth; $20.00, paper.
Participating in Development: Approaches to Indigenous
Knowledge. Paul Sillitoe, Alan Bicker, and
Johan Pottier, eds. New York: Routledge, 2002, 270 pp. $90.00,
cloth; $27.95, paper.
Why Do Men Barbecue? Recipes for Cultural Psychology.
Richard A. Schweder.
Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2003,
Home Possessions: Material Culture behind Closed Doors. Daniel Miller,
ed. New York: Berg, 2001, 234 pp.
$70.00, cloth; $24.00, paper.
Coquelle Thompson, Athabaskan Witness: A Cultural
Biography. Lionel Youst and William R. Seaburg. Norman:
University of Oklahoma Press, 2002, 320 pp., 25 black-and-white illustrations. $34.95, cloth.
Woven Stories: Andean Textiles and Rituals. Andrea M. Heckman. Albuquerque:
University of New Mexico Press, 2003, 216 pp., 114 color photos, 20 halftones, 1 map. $45.00, cloth.
Ethnography and Schools: Qualitative Approaches to
the Study of Education. Yali Zou and Enrique (Henry) T. Trueba, eds.
Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group, 2002,
328 pp. $69.00, cloth; $26.95, paper.
The Politics of Storytelling: Violence, Transgression,
and Intersubjectivity. Michael Jackson.
Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, University of Copenhagen,
2002, 320 pp. $37.00, paper.
Martha Brae’s Two Histories: European Expansion
and Caribbean Culture-Building in Jamaica. Jean Besson. Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 2002,
393 pp. $60.00, cloth; $24.95, paper.
Yuchi Ceremonial Life: Performance, Meaning, and
Tradition in a Contemporary American Indian Community. Jason Baird Jackson. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003, 416 pp. $75.00,
Palaeolithic Quarrying Sites in Upper and
Middle Egypt. Pierre M. Vermeersch, ed. Leuven, Belgium:
Leuven University Press, 2002, 364 pp., numerous figures. 45.00 €, paper.
Kalambo Falls Prehistoric Site, vol. III; The Earlier
Cultures: Middle and Earlier Stone Age. J. Desmond Clark, assisted by J. Cormack and S. Chin, with contributions by M. Kleindienst, D. Taylor, R. Marchant, A. Hamilton, K. Schick, D. Roe, N. Toth, S. Edwards, J. Gowlett, R. Crompton, Li Yu, R. Organ, C. McKinney, and Y. Zeleke. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2001, 701 pp. plus 54 plates and 10 fold-out plans and stratigraphic sections. $375.00, cloth.