Issue No. 2, Vol 107 (2020)

Studies

The danger of spirituality: energy and contagion
Abstract
The paper addresses representations of danger in the spiritual sphere in contemporary society in Slovakia by exploring the specific case of neoshamanic groups. This argument is based on Mary Douglas’s theory and the representations of spiritual practices are interpreted in relation to the particular social context. I present the results of ethnographic research conducted in Bratislava. I argue that in the neo-shamans’ interpretations of spiritual healing the notion of contagion serves as a signal of danger and indicates “wrong” beliefs and behaviour. Their reasoning is centred around altered states of consciousness (ASC) linked to the concept of energy. Neo-shamans represent shamanic healing as a moral act. However, rivalry between experts results in mutual blaming: “wrong” practice results in harm caused by the influence of negative energy. My interpretation is complemented by the results of a preliminary survey of articles in selected Christian media addressing the theme of alternative spirituality. They define Christianity as the only true spiritual path and condemn practitioners of all non-Christian spiritual techniques involving ASC, the reason being that any spiritual healing, including neo-shamanism, opens the way for contagious evil forces. The harmful effect is therefore associated with contagion and is ascribed to the practices of “others” both in the context of alternative spirituality and in the context of Christian media.
Contemporary Czech Shamanism: A Case Study of Ritual Practice and Healing
Abstract
The article presents an overview of contemporary Czech shamanism based on the field research the author has been conducting since 2017 among the Czech shamanic communities. Despite the specific Czech distrust to ‘religion’ and ‘formalized ritualization’ in general, shamanism enjoys particular popularity. Particular attention is paid to the concept of illnesses and shamanic treatment. It is argued that the shamanic ‘action approach’ to human adversity offers a rather broad and attractive explanation as to what is experienced and performed during the shamanic ritual. Therefore, the second part is dedicated to shamanic ritual - the paraphernalia, ritual set and setting, which creates a space for ritual practice as well as a safe-space for spontaneous communitas, and one’s own understanding of this psychotherapeutic and religious experience. The final part is concluded by the specifics of contemporary Czech shamanism in the pervasive discourse of modern western spirituality.
Cemetery revolts. Resistance to the burial of suicides and the concept of “impurity” in the Bohemian and Moravian countryside from the late 17th to the first half of the 19th centuries
Abstract
Based on selected archival materials from the Bohemian and Moravian milieus, the study deals with the problems with the burial of people who committed suicide. The base is the interrogation protocols from manorial and vicegerent (gubernial) fonds from the border areas of South Bohemia and the Moravian-Silesian border; however, they are also confronted with cases from other areas. The study seeks to demonstrate the extent to which the concept of “impurity” and “tainting” still played a crucial role in the period in question, which still seemed to establish the legitimacy of a number of “parajudicial” practices applied to the body of suicide. The “cemetery revolts” are set precisely in this context, which show that the “folk” milieu really did not distinguish between a “convicted” and “liberated” suicide: buried in profane, non-consecrated land met with resistance both with “convicted” suicides, and in those removed of guilt for a mental disorder: fears of bad weather, crop failure, or crop damage evidently dominated in both, and both were ruled by the idea of possible “phantoms” or “spirits”. This generalized fear might be put in the context with the very basic needs and concerns of rural communities, for which crop failure or the manifestations of bad weather such as hail or severe drought were absolutely fatal events.Unclean bodies in sacred soil, regardless of the personality of the deceased and the results of the investigation, were perceived as a permanent source of danger for the whole community. The understanding of desecration, “impurity”, tainting could thus in the thought of the common serfs be entirely missed with the concept of “official, ecclesiastical or legal. His logic – and the associated “parajudicial” practices and strategies of “exclusion” or “cleansing” – formed part of the protective magic closely tied to the basic needs of the rural communities – especially those more remote and more threatened by poverty.
Remembering the Second World War in Generational Perspective: from a National to a Globalized and Abstracted Narrative
Abstract
The aim of the article is to gain a more comprehensive insight into a Czech collective memory of the Second World War. The article suggests that vivid collective representations of the Second World War are informed by family memory as well as by generational memory. On the example of four generations, the article shows a transformation of a national narrative of persecution and resistance of the oldest generation into an abstracted and generalized narrative of the youngest generation. Attention is paid to family recollections, their importance for the creation of the war memory by older generations and their gradual disappearance into younger generations. The article emphasizes a change of the perspective with which the youngest generation remembers the Second World War and stresses the emotional engagement of remembering. It argues that holocaust memory is well included into a Czech collective memory but under a new form provided by a new culture of remembering.
Return Migration and Re-emigration: Chimaera in Relation to Diasporic Descendants?
Abstract
Terms return migration or re-emigration intentionally deals with „return of diaspora to the country of origin” and these terms are therefore filled by nationalistic lenses. They could be useful in case of diasporic return to country of origin, but using term “ethnic return migration” and clarifying migration of diasporic descendants (to country of their ancestors) by strategic, rational and pragmatic using of their ethnic disposition should be also put into research. Indeed, in case of some diasporic descendants could be ethnic belonging lost and diasporic identification questioned while their migration to „country of origin of their ancestors“ could be analyzed as mobility for material or economic benefit. In this article I will analyze migration of diasporic descendants from West Ukraine and South Moldova to find out whether they incline more to return migration/re-remigration or to ethnic return migration.
International versions of Kinderschreck in remediation process
Abstract
This study deals with an overview of international versions of the folk character kinderschreck, a pedagogical figure that scares children. The research probe is based on testimonies of respondents from thirteen countries in Europe and beyond. The work includes both characters based on traditional folklore narratives, as well as mentions of characters that are known mainly due to popular culture. It turns out that popular culture is an indispensable factor in the migration of folklore narratives and their subsequent transformations.

News

Konference Zvědavost, nostalgie, nutnost? Brno, 23.–25. října 2019
Music and Local/Regional Languages: Joint Symposium of the ICTM National Committees