Modernity and Spirit Worship in India: An Anthropology of the Umwelt, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Modernity and Spirit Worship in India

An Anthropology of the Umwelt, 1st Edition

By Miho Ishii


336 pages

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Hardback: 9780367410285
pub: 2019-11-27
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This book investigates the entangled relations between people’s daily worship practices and their umwelt in South India. Focusing on the practices of spirit (būta) worship in the coastal area of Karnataka, it examines the relationship between people and deities.

Based on extensive fieldwork, this book links important anthropological theories on personhood, perspectives, transactions, and gift-exchanges together with the Gestaltkreis theory of Viktor von Weizsäcker. Firstly, it examines the relations between būta worship and land tenure, matriliny, and hierarchy in the society. It then explores the reflexive relationship between modern law and current practices based on conventional law, before examining new developments in būta worship with the rise of environmental movements and mega-industries. Furthermore, this book sheds light on the struggles and endeavours of the people who create and recreate their relations with the realm of sacred wildness, as well as the formations and transformations of the umwelt in perpetual social-political transition.

Modernity and Spirit Worship in India will be of interest to academics in the field of anthropology, religious studies and the dynamics of religion, and South Asian Culture and Society.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: Towards an anthropology of the umwelt; Part 1 Humans and the wild śakti of deities; 2 The land of paddy fields, forests, and deities; 3 The būta shrine and deities in Perar; 4 Pāḍdana: The oral epics of deities; 5 Dances, oracles, and blessings in the ritual; 6 The transaction of wild śakti; 7 Playing with perspectives; Part 2 Social transformations and the emergence of a new umwelt; 8 Būta’s agency in conflicts over the village shrine; 9 Historical changes in land tenure in South Kanara; 10 Modern law, customary law, and the reflexive imagination; 11 Land reforms and deities as the ‘owners of land’; 12 Būtas in the midst of the development project; 13 The new umwelt in the industrial plant; 14 Conclusion: Being, pathos, and the umwelt

About the Author

Miho Ishii is an Associate Professor at Kyoto University, Japan. Her current research focus is on the relationship between spirit worship and developmental projects in South India.

About the Series

Routledge New Horizons in South Asian Studies

New Horizons in South Asian Studies is a multi-disciplinary series, addressing the fields of history, sociology, economics, politics, and anthropology. It offers a Japanese perspective on South Asia, through translations of outstanding works originally published in Japanese or international collaborative research under the leadership of Japanese scholars and institutions. The series encompasses academic monographs and edited volumes concerning the Indian subcontinent as a whole. It makes a significant contribution to the development of South Asian Studies.

Editorial Board:

Crispin BATES, University of Edinburgh, UK

Akio TANABE, University of Kyoto, Japan

Minoru MIO, National Museum of Ethnology, Japan

Nobuko NAGASAKI, Ryukoku University, Japan

Shinji MIZUSHIMA, University of Tokyo, Japan

Hidenori OKAHASHI, Hiroshima University, Japan

Toshie AWAYA, Tokyo University for Foreign Studies, Japan

Haruka YANAGISAWA, Chiba University, Japan

Takenori HORIMOTO, Chuo University, Japan

Kaoru SUGIHARA, University of Kyoto, Japan

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies