This book is a documentation and analysis of a spectrum of practices by means of which congregations of suffering and congregations of kinship in the South Arcot district of Tamilnadu, South India, deal with crises of inclusion and exclusion. The author explores the core process underlying initiatic visions and rituals of divination, countersorcery, exorcism, investiture, and sacrifice. She contends that anthropological models of the ritual process fail to describe Tamil rituals. Nabokov also distinguishes between two kinds of ritual structures: "prescriptive rituals", which pressure people to incorporate an outer or public image of themselves, and "performative rituals", which let them author their own transformations; but it argues that both kinds ultimately do violence to the self. At its boradest level, this study shows how religion coerces the Tamil person into becoming someone at odds with his or her self.Bringing new understanding to central issues in the study of South Indian religion, this book will be of interest to anthropologists, historians of religion, South Asianists, and psychologists.
About the Author:
ISABELLE NABOKOV is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University.