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Fertile DisorderSpirit Possession and Its Provocation of the Modern$
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Kalpana Ram

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824836306

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824836306.001.0001

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Minor Practices

Minor Practices

(p.42) Chapter 2 Minor Practices
Fertile Disorder

Kalpana Ram

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines spirit possession as a minor practice in Tamil Nadu as well as the specific Tamil regional traditions of rationalism. In particular, it considers how modern discourses have distinguished and parceled out the range of minor practices that pertain to possession, thus reducing it to an isolated phenomenon that lacks any language of its own. The chapter begins with a discussion of Indian cultural Marxism and its account of folk religion, focusing on the views of Günther-Dietz Sontheimer and Frederick M. Smith. It then explores the implications of modernity for folk and tribal religions in Tamil Nadu, and especially how specific regional histories have shaped modern attitudes toward folk religion. It also shows how spirit possession is made to figure in a generalized war against irrationality.

Keywords:   spirit possession, Tamil Nadu, rationalism, minor practices, cultural Marxism, folk religion, Günther-Dietz Sontheimer, Frederick M. Smith, modernity, irrationality

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