Cultural Studies 102 Essay
Field: History – Ancient history
Stoller and Olkes, Stafford, and Pagis each describe situations where religious/spiritual practices and their meanings are differentially accessible or salient to participants. For Stoller and his mentors, access to spiritual power usually came in the form of close relationships. Stafford, on the other hand, points out that in China religious practices are often carried out in the open, but might not all be equally interesting to laypersons. Finally, Pagis shows that even in the midst of collective practice, meditators might not always have direct access to other people’s experiences and may be left to intuit these through subtle and often non-explicit means. For this week’s assignment, take one or more of these authors and use their insights (not the ethnographic details, but their arguments) to address one area of practice in shamanic summer solstice field site.
(A) Describe the practice and what you understand to be in summer solstice shamanic ritual. How did you arrive at this interpretation? I.E., What sources of information were available to your in the midst of the activity? (B) How salient were these interpretive resources? Were others noticeably oriented toward them? If not, how might the meaning of those practices be constituted for members of the community? Remember: it can be very helpful to participate yourself if you have the opportunity. 2 pages, double – spaced (400-600 words)