Calling the Spirits investigates the eerie history of our conversations with the dead, from necromancy in Homer’s Odyssey to the emergence of Spiritualism, when Victorians were entranced by mediums and the seance was born. Among our cast are the Fox sisters, teenagers surrounded by “spirit rappings;” Daniel Dunglas Home, the “greatest medium of all time;” Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose unlikely friendship was forged, then riven, by the afterlife; and Helen Duncan, the medium whose trial in 1944 for witchcraft proved more popular to the public than news about the war. The book also considers Ouija boards, modern psychics and paranormal investigations, and is illustrated with engravings, fine art (from beyond), and photographs. A hugely entertaining contribution from the supernaturally adept Lisa Morton, Calling the Spirits begs the question: is anybody there . . . ?
Monsters, ghosts, the supernatural, the fantastic, the mysterious. These are not usually considered the “stuff” of modernism. More often they are regarded as inconsequential to the study of the modern, or, at best, seen as representative of traditional beliefs that are overcome and left behind in the transformation toward modernity. In Civilization and Monsters Gerald Figal asserts that discourse on the fantastic was at the heart of the historical configuration of Japanese modernity—that the representation of the magical and mysterious played an integral part in the production of modernity beginning in Meiji Japan (1868–1912). After discussing the role of the fantastic in everyday Japan at the eve of the Meiji period, Figal draws new connections between folklorists, writers, educators, state ideologues, and policymakers, all of whom crossed paths in a contest over supernatural terrain. He shows the ways in which a determined Meiji state was engaged in a battle to suppress, denigrate, manipulate, or reincorporate folk belief as part of an effort toward the consolidation of a modern national culture. Modern medicine and education, functioning as a means for the state to exercise its power, redefined folk practices as a source of evil. Diverse local spirits were supplanted by a new Japanese Spirit, embodied by the newly constituted emperor, the supernatural source of the nation’s strength. The monsters of folklore were identified, catalogued, and characterized according to a new regime of modern reason. But whether engaged to support state power and forge a national citizenry or to critique the arbitrary nature of that power, the fantastic, as Figal maintains, is the constant condition of Japanese modernity in all its contradictions. Furthermore, he argues, modernity in general is born of fantasy in ways that have scarcely been recognized. Bringing unexplored and provocative new ideas to the Japan specialist, Civilization and Monsters will also appeal to readers concerned with issues of modernity in general.
Malaria is an infectious disease like no other: it is a dynamic force of nature and Africa’s most deadly and debilitating malady. James C. McCann tells the story of malaria in human, narrative terms and explains the history and ecology of the disease through the science of landscape change. All malaria is local. Instead of examining the disease at global or continental scale, McCann investigates malaria’s adaptation and persistence in a single region, Ethiopia, over time and at several contrasting sites.
Malaria has evolved along with humankind and has adapted to even modern-day technological efforts to eradicate it or to control its movement. Insecticides, such as DDT, drug prophylaxis, development of experimental vaccines, and even molecular-level genetic manipulation have proven to be only temporary fixes. The failure of each stand-alone solution suggests the necessity of a comprehensive ecological understanding of malaria, its transmission, and its persistence, one that accepts its complexity and its local dynamism as fundamental features.
The story of this disease in Ethiopia includes heroes, heroines, witches, spirits—and a very clever insect—as well as the efforts of scientists in entomology, agroecology, parasitology, and epidemiology. Ethiopia is an ideal case for studying the historical human culture of illness, the dynamism of nature’s disease ecology, and its complexity within malaria.
Invisible Agents shows how personal and deeply felt spiritual beliefs can inspire social movements and influence historical change. Conventional historiography concentrates on the secular, materialist, or moral sources of political agency. Instead, David M. Gordon argues, when people perceive spirits as exerting power in the visible world, these beliefs form the basis for individual and collective actions. Focusing on the history of the south-central African country of Zambia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, his analysis invites reflection on political and religious realms of action in other parts of the world, and complicates the post-Enlightenment divide of sacred and profane.
The book combines theoretical insights with attention to local detail and remarkable historical sweep, from oral narratives communicated across slave-trading routes during the nineteenth century, through the violent conflicts inspired by Christian and nationalist prophets during colonial times, and ending with the spirits of Pentecostal rebirth during the neoliberal order of the late twentieth century. To gain access to the details of historical change and personal spiritual beliefs across this long historical period, Gordon employs all the tools of the African historian. His own interviews and extensive fieldwork experience in Zambia provide texture and understanding to the narrative. He also critically interprets a diverse range of other sources, including oral traditions, fieldnotes of anthropologists, missionary writings and correspondence, unpublished state records, vernacular publications, and Zambian newspapers.
Invisible Agents will challenge scholars and students alike to think in new ways about the political imagination and the invisible sources of human action and historical change.
Oni, ubiquitous supernatural figures in Japanese literature, lore, art, and religion, usually appear as demons or ogres. Characteristically threatening, monstrous creatures with ugly features and fearful habits, including cannibalism, they also can be harbingers of prosperity, beautiful and sexual, and especially in modern contexts, even cute and lovable. There has been much ambiguity in their character and identity over their long history. Usually male, their female manifestations convey distinctivly gendered social and cultural meanings.
Oni appear frequently in various arts and media, from Noh theater and picture scrolls to modern fiction and political propaganda, They remain common figures in popular Japanese anime, manga, and film and are becoming embedded in American and international popular culture through such media. Noriko Reiderýs book is the first in English devoted to oni. Reider fully examines their cultural history, multifaceted roles, and complex significance as "others" to the Japanese.
High above the noise and traffic of metropolitan Phoenix, Native American rock art offers mute testimony that another civilization once thrived in the Arizona desert. In the city's South Mountains, prehispanic peoples pecked thousands of images into the mountains' boulders and outcroppings—images that today's hikers can encounter with every bend in the trail.
Todd Bostwick, an archaeologist who has studied the Hohokam for more than twenty years, and Peter Krocek, a professional photographer with a passion for archaeology, have combed the South Mountains to locate nearly all of the ancient petroglyphs found in the canyons and ridges. Their years of learning the landscape and investigating the ancient designs have resulted in a book that explores this wealth of prehistoric rock art within its natural and cultural contexts, revealing what these carvings might mean, how they got there, and when they were made.
Landscape of the Spirits is the first book to cover these ancient images and is one of the most comprehensive treatments of a rock art location ever published. It conveys the range of different rock art elements and compositions found in the South Mountains—animals, humans, and geometric shapes, as well as celestial and calendrical markings at key sites—through accurate descriptions, drawings, and photographs. Interpretations of the petroglyphs are based on Native American ethnographic accounts and consider the most recent theories concerning shamanism and archaeoastronomy.
Written in a simple and accessible style, Landscape of the Spirits is an indispensable volume for anyone exploring the South Mountains, and for rock art enthusiasts everywhere who wish to broaden their understanding of the prehistoric world. It is both an authoritative overview of these ancient wonders and an unprecedented benchmark in southwestern rock art research at a single geographic location.
This fascinating new book by Chun-shu Chang and Shelley Hsueh-lun Chang follows the career, times, and ideas of P'u Sung-ling (1640-1715) and focuses its discussion on his magnum opus, Liao-chai chih- i, or Tales of the Unusual from the Studio of Deliberation and Musing. P'u lived through the turbulent period of Ming-Ch'ing dynastic transition in the seventeenth century and he aspired, as did millions of young men of his time, to pass the Imperial Civil Service Examinations necessary for securing a government position.
While P'u did not attain his goal of becoming a statesman, having failed exam after exam for fifty years, he was not impeded in his intellectual and literary pursuits. When he died in 1715, he left a body of work including over 500 essays, 1,295 poems, 119 lyrics, 18 encyclopedias and handbooks, 20 operas, 100 folk songs, and 500 short stories. He went on to become one of the most well-known scholar-writers and the best known short-story author in Chinese history. The 500 stories in Liao-chai chih-i, which P'u composed in his self-styled capacity as historian, had the most lasting influence of any single work on the shaping of popular consciousness in China.
Following the life and literature of one man, this study sets out to detail the history of the Ming-Ch'ing dynastic transition in the East Shantung region. It is based on an exhaustive exploration of contemporary Chinese historical and literary sources, including local histories, clan and family records, autobiographical and biographical materials, folklore, essays, poems, and plays: in short, the entire range of literary sources. Using a comprehensive historical approach, the authors cover a broad array of issues relevant to the topic at hand.
Redefining History is an important source for the study of Chinese history and literature and comparative historical studies. It will also appeal to people interested in the relation between history and literature, issues of gender and class, race relations, biographical studies, and popular culture movements.
Chun-shu Chang is Professor of History, University of Michigan, and Honorary Professor of Chinese History, China. Shelley Hsueh-lun Chang is Visiting Associate Professor of History and Research Associate, Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan.
Ritual Medical Lore of Sephardic Women preserves the precious remnants of a rich culture on the verge of extinction while affirming women's pivotal role in the health of their communities. Centered around extensive interviews with elders of the Sephardic communities of the former Ottoman Empire, this volume illuminates a fascinating complex of preventive and curative rituals conducted by women at home--rituals that ensured the physical and spiritual well-being of the community and functioned as a vital counterpart to the public rites conducted by men in the synagogues.
Isaac Jack Lévy and Rosemary Lévy Zumwalt take us into the homes and families of Sephardim in Turkey, Israel, Greece, the former Yugoslavia, and the United States to unravel the ancient practices of domestic healing: the network of blessings and curses tailored to every occasion of daily life; the beliefs and customs surrounding mal ojo (evil eye), espanto (fright), and echizo (witchcraft); and cures involving everything from herbs, oil, and sugar to the powerful mumia (mummy) made from dried bones of corpses.
For the Sephardim, curing an illness required discovering its spiritual cause, which might be unintentional thought or speech, accident, or magical incantation. The healing rituals of domesticated medicine provided a way of making sense of illness and a way of shaping behavior to fit the narrow constraints of a tightly structured community. Tapping a rich and irreplaceable vein of oral testimony, Ritual Medical Lore of Sephardic Women offers fascinating insight into a culture where profound spirituality permeated every aspect of daily life.
In Japanese culture, oni are ubiquitous supernatural creatures who play important roles in literature, lore, and folk belief. Characteristically ambiguous, they have been great and small, mischievous and dangerous, and ugly and beautiful over their long history. Here, author Noriko Reider presents seven oni stories from medieval Japan in full and translated for an English-speaking audience.
Reider, concordant with many scholars of Japanese cultural studies, argues that to study oni is to study humanity. These tales are from an era in which many new oni stories appeared for the purpose of both entertainment and moral/religious edification and for which oni were particularly important, as they were perceived to be living entities. They reflect not only the worldview of medieval Japan but also themes that inform twenty-first-century Japanese pop and vernacular culture, including literature, manga, film, and anime. With each translation, Reider includes an introductory essay exploring the historical and cultural importance of the characters and oni manifestations within this period.
Offering new insights into and interpretations of not only the stories therein but also the entire genre of Japanese ghost stories, Seven Demon Stories is a valuable companion to Reider’s 2010 volume Japanese Demon Lore. It will be of significant value to folklore scholars as well as students of Japanese culture.
What happens when three hundred alleged squatters go head-to-head with an enormous city government looking to develop the place where they live? As anthropologist Michael Herzfeld shows in this book, the answer can be surprising. He tells the story of Pom Mahakan, a tiny enclave in the heart of old Bangkok whose residents have resisted authorities’ demands to vacate their homes for a quarter of a century. It’s a story of community versus government, of old versus new, and of political will versus the law.
Herzfeld argues that even though the residents of Pom Mahakan have lost every legal battle the city government has dragged them into, they have won every public relations contest, highlighting their struggle as one against bureaucrats who do not respect the age-old values of Thai/Siamese social and cultural order. Such values include compassion for the poor and an understanding of urban space as deeply embedded in social and ritual relations. In a gripping account of their standoff, Herzfeld—who simultaneously argues for the importance of activism in scholarship—traces the agile political tactics and styles of the community’s leadership, using their struggle to illuminate the larger difficulties, tensions, and unresolved debates that continue to roil Thai society to this day.
The Social Life of Spirits
Edited by Ruy Blanes and Diana Espírito Santo University of Chicago Press, 2013 Library of Congress BL477.S635 2014 | Dewey Decimal 202.109729
Spirits can be haunters, informants, possessors, and transformers of the living, but more than anything anthropologists have understood them as representations of something else—symbols that articulate facets of human experience in much the same way works of art do. The Social Life of Spirits challenges this notion. By stripping symbolism from the way we think about the spirit world, the contributors of this book uncover a livelier, more diverse environment of entities—with their own histories, motivations, and social interactions—providing a new understanding of spirits not as symbols, but as agents.
The contributors tour the spiritual globe—the globe of nonthings—in essays on topics ranging from the Holy Ghost in southern Africa to spirits of the “people of the streets” in Rio de Janeiro to dragons and magic in Britain. Avoiding a reliance on religion and belief systems to explain the significance of spirits, they reimagine spirits in a rich network of social trajectories, ultimately arguing for a new ontological ground upon which to examine the intangible world and its interactions with the tangible one.
Songs for the Spirits examines the Vietnamese practice of communing with spirits through music and performance. During rituals dedicated to a pantheon of indigenous spirits, musicians perform an elaborate sequence of songs--a "songscape"--for possessed mediums who carry out ritual actions, distribute blessed gifts to disciples, and dance to the music's infectious rhythms. Condemned by French authorities in the colonial period and prohibited by the Vietnamese Communist Party in the late 1950s, mediumship practices have undergone a strong resurgence since the early 1990s, and they are now being drawn upon to promote national identity and cultural heritage through folklorized performances of rituals on the national and international stage.
By tracing the historical trajectory of traditional music and religion since the early twentieth century, this groundbreaking study offers an intriguing account of the political transformation and modernization of cultural practices over a period of dramatic and often turbulent transition. An accompanying DVD contains numerous video and music extracts that illustrate the fascinating ways in which music evokes the embodied presence of spirits and their gender and ethnic identities.
Vodou has often served as a scapegoat for Haiti’s problems, from political upheavals to natural disasters. This tradition of scapegoating stretches back to the nation’s founding and forms part of a contest over the legitimacy of the religion, both beyond and within Haiti’s borders. The Spirits and the Law examines that vexed history, asking why, from 1835 to 1987, Haiti banned many popular ritual practices.
To find out, Kate Ramsey begins with the Haitian Revolution and its aftermath. Fearful of an independent black nation inspiring similar revolts, the United States, France, and the rest of Europe ostracized Haiti. Successive Haitian governments, seeking to counter the image of Haiti as primitive as well as contain popular organization and leadership, outlawed “spells” and, later, “superstitious practices.” While not often strictly enforced, these laws were at times the basis for attacks on Vodou by the Haitian state, the Catholic Church, and occupying U.S. forces. Beyond such offensives, Ramsey argues that in prohibiting practices considered essential for maintaining relations with the spirits, anti-Vodou laws reinforced the political marginalization, social stigmatization, and economic exploitation of the Haitian majority. At the same time, she examines the ways communities across Haiti evaded, subverted, redirected, and shaped enforcement of the laws. Analyzing the long genealogy of anti-Vodou rhetoric, Ramsey thoroughly dissects claims that the religion has impeded Haiti’s development.
Spirits and Wine
Susan Newhof University of Michigan Press, 2011 Library of Congress PS3614.E585S65 2011 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
It's a mystery and a ghost story, all wrapped up in one.
A newly married couple buys an old house in a small lakeshore town in West Michigan and finds it haunted by the dramatic secrets of its past inhabitants. As the couple settles in, disturbing events prompt them to investigate who those residents were, what happened to them, and why one spirit remains active. Could the Spanish influenza epidemic in the region, which resulted in the deaths of an unprecedented number of young, healthy adults in Michigan and elsewhere in 1918---19, and the resulting slew of orphans, have something to do with the spirit now haunting their house?
They are determined to discover the truth about their house, even if it jeopardizes their own safety.
James Houk's field work in Trinidad and subsequent involvement in the Orisha religion allows him a uniquely intimate perspective on a complex and eclectic religion. Originating in Nigeria, Orisha combines elements of African religions (notably Yoruba), Catholicism, Hinduism, Protestantism Spiritual Baptist, and Kabbalah. A religion of spirits and spirit possession, ceremonies and feasts, churches and shrines, sacrifices and sacred objects, Orisha is constantly shifting and unstable, its practice widely varied. As a belief system, it is a powerful presence in the social structure, culture, and, more recently, the political realm of Trinidad.
Houk carefully examines the historical forces that have transformed Orisha from a relatively simple religion in colonial Trinidad to an abstruse mix of belief, ritual, and symbolism. The voices of worshippers and Orisha leaders spring to life the intensity and power of the religion. Houk's own recounting of participation in many of the mystical ceremonies, including taking on the important role of drummer in several feasts, his initiation into Orisha, and his exceptional field research provide fascinating details essential in understanding the development of this Caribbean religion.
Spirits in Politics explores the interface between religion and politics in African societies by examining recent and ongoing research in a variety of regional settings. Case studies from across the African continent exemplify how—and at which social levels—spirits, witchcraft, and other supernatural agents play an active role in political action and the conceptualization of power. This volume illustrates not only how ritual techniques such as divination or spirit possession may play a vital role in people’s efforts to regain control over the political processes that determine their lives, but also how magical and other secret practices are at the center of local discourse on democratization and state politics. Moreover, the contributors show that these practices are prominent in day-to-day decision-making processes at local levels, including the interaction between spirit-based and democratic institutions of social organization in modern urban life and economies.
"Thousands of years ago, before Christ or Buddha or Muhammad...before the Roman Empire rose or the Colossus of Rhodes fell," Eric Burns writes, "people in Asia Minor were drinking beer." So begins an account as entertaining as it is extensive, of alcohol's journey through world—and, more important, American—history. In The Spirits of America, Burns relates that drinking was "the first national pastime," and shows how it shaped American politics and culture from the earliest colonial days. He details the transformation of alcohol from virtue to vice and back again, how it was thought of as both scourge and medicine. He tells us how "the great American thirst" developed over the centuries, and how reform movements and laws (some of which, Burn s says, were "comic masterpieces of the legislator's art") sprang up to combat it. Burns brings back to life such vivid characters as Carrie Nation and other crusaders against drink. He informs us that, in the final analysis, Prohibition, the culmination of the reformers' quest, had as much to do with politics and economics and geography as it did with spirituous beverage. Filled with the famous, the infamous, and the undeservedly anonymous, The Spirits of America is a masterpiece of the historian's art. It will stand as a classic chronicle—witty, perceptive, and comprehensive—of how this country was created by and continues to be shaped by its ever-changing relationship to the cocktail shaker and the keg.
This remarkable biography and edited diary tell the story of William Ellis Jones (1838–1910), an artillerist in Crenshaw’s Battery, Pegram’s Battalion, the Army of Northern Virginia. One of the few extant diaries by a Confederate artillerist, Jones’s articulate writings cover camp life as well as many of the key military events of 1862, including the Peninsula Campaign, the Second Battle of Manassas, the Maryland Campaign, and the Battle of Fredericksburg.
In 1865 Jones returned to his prewar printing trade in Richmond, and his lasting reputation stems from his namesake publishing company’s role in the creation and dissemination of much of the Lost Cause ideology. Unlike the pro-Confederate books and pamphlets Jones published—primary among them the Southern Historical Society Papers—his diary shows the mindset of an unenthusiastic soldier. In a model of contextualization, Constance Hall Jones shows how her ancestor came to embrace an uncritical veneration of the army’s leadership and to promulgate a mythology created by veterans and their descendants who refused to face the amorality of their cause.
Jones brackets the soldier’s diary with rich, biographical detail, profiling his friends and relatives and providing insight into his childhood and post-war years. In doing so, she offers one of the first serious investigations into the experience of a Welsh immigrant family loyal to the Confederacy and makes a significant contribution to our understanding of Civil War–era Richmond and the nineteenth-century publishing industry. Invitingly written, The Spirits of Bad Men Made Perfect is an engaging life-and-times story that will appeal to historians and general readers alike.
Between A.D. 700 and 1100 Native Americans built more effigy mounds in Wisconsin than anywhere else in North America, with an estimated 1,300 mounds—including the world’s largest known bird effigy—at the center of effigy-building culture in and around Madison, Wisconsin. These huge earthworks, sculpted in the shape of birds, mammals, and other figures, have aroused curiosity for generations and together comprise a vast effigy mound ceremonial landscape. Farming and industrialization destroyed most of these mounds, leaving the mysteries of who built them and why they were made. The remaining mounds are protected today and many can be visited. explores the cultural, historical, and ceremonial meanings of the mounds in an informative, abundantly illustrated book and guide.
Spirits of Just Men tells the story of moonshine in 1930s America, as seen through the remarkable location of Franklin County, Virginia, a place that many still refer to as the "moonshine capital of the world." Charles D. Thompson Jr. chronicles the Great Moonshine Conspiracy Trial of 1935, which made national news and exposed the far-reaching and pervasive tendrils of Appalachia's local moonshine economy. Thompson, whose ancestors were involved in the area's moonshine trade and trial as well as local law enforcement, uses the event as a stepping-off point to explore Blue Ridge Mountain culture, economy, and political engagement in the 1930s. Drawing from extensive oral histories and local archival material, he illustrates how the moonshine trade was a rational and savvy choice for struggling farmers and community members during the Great Depression.
Local characters come alive through this richly colorful narrative, including the stories of Miss Ora Harrison, a key witness for the defense and an Episcopalian missionary to the region, and Elder Goode Hash, an itinerant Primitive Baptist preacher and juror in a related murder trial. Considering the complex interactions of religion, economics, local history, Appalachian culture, and immigration, Thompson's sensitive analysis examines the people and processes involved in turning a basic agricultural commodity into such a sought-after and essentially American spirit.
In spring of 1953, newly elected President Eisenhower sat down with his staff to discuss the state of American strategy in the cold war. America, he insisted, needed a new approach to an urgent situation. From this meeting emerged Eisenhower’s teams of “bright young fellows,” charged with developing competing policies, each of which would come to shape global politics. In Spirits of the Cold War, Ned O’Gorman argues that the early Cold War was a crucible not only for contesting political strategies, but also for competing conceptions of America and its place in the world. Drawing on extensive archival research and wide reading in intellectual and rhetorical histories, this comprehensive account shows cold warriors debating “worldviews” in addition to more strictly instrumental tactical aims. Spirits of the Cold War is a rigorous scholarly account of the strategic debate of the early Cold War—a cultural diagnostic of American security discourse and an examination of its origins.
The Spirits of the Earth
Catherine Colomb Seagull Books, 2016 Library of Congress PQ2605.O34813E813 2016 | Dewey Decimal 843.912
Swiss novelist Catherine Colomb is known as one of the most unusual and inventive francophone novelists of the twentieth century. Fascinated by the processes of memory and consciousness, she has been compared to that of Virginia Woolf and Marcel Proust. The Spirits of the Earth is the first English translation of Colomb’s work and its arrival will introduce new readers to an iconic novel.
The Spirits of the Earth is at heart a family drama, set at the Fraidaigue château, along the shores of Lake Geneva, and in the Maison d’en Haut country mansion, located in the hills above the lake. In these luxe locales, readers encounter upper-class characters with faltering incomes, parvenues, and even ghosts. Throughout, Colomb builds a psychologically penetrating and bold story in which the living and the dead intermingle and in which time itself is a mystery.
Tracing the Relational examines the recent emergence of relational ontologies in archaeological interpretation and how this perspective can help archaeologists better understand the past. Traditional representational approaches reflect modern or Western perspectives, which focus on the individual and see the world in terms of dichotomies that separate culture and nature, human and object, sacred and secular. In contrast, ancient societies saw themselves as connected to and entangled with other human and nonhuman entities. In order to gain deeper insight into how people in the ancient world lived, experienced, and negotiated their lives, contributors argue, archaeologists must explore the myriad relationships and entanglements between humans and other beings, places, and things. As contributors unravel these relationships, they demonstrate that movement is an inherent feature of these relational webs and is the driving force behind a continually shifting reality. Chapters focus on various regions and time periods throughout the Americas, tracing how movements between other-worldly dimensions, spirits and deities, and temporalities were integral to everyday life.