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War Magic

Religion, Sorcery, and Performance

Edited by D. S. Farrer

180 pages, 23 illus., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-329-3 $27.95/£19.00 Pb Published (September 2016)

eISBN 978-1-78533-330-9 eBook

Pb   Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Buy the ebook from these vendors

War Magic is a significant new look at some old questions, and while the collected essays are relatively few and brief, they are important and interesting… we can only hope that the volume will spur more attention to the subject of malicious spiritual power, which in turn should shed light on prominent problems like holy war and fundamentalist terrorism.” · Anthropology Review Database

"This fascinating volume reconfigures the study of magic, sorcery, and religion by inquiring beyond the meaning of beliefs and symbols to ask what spiritual performances do in accomplishing or preventing violence and death." · John Whalen-Bridge, National University of Singapore

This compelling volume explores how war magic and warrior religion unleash the power of the gods, demons, ghosts, and the dead. Documenting war magic and warrior religion as they are performed in diverse cultures and across historical time periods, this volume foregrounds embodiment, practice, and performance in anthropological approaches to magic, sorcery, shamanism, and religion. The authors go beyond what magic ‘represents’ to consider what magic does. From Chinese exorcists, Javanese spirit siblings, and black magic in Sumatra to Tamil Tiger suicide bombers, Chamorro spiritual re-enchantment, tantric Buddhist war magic, and Yanomami dark shamans, religion and magic are re-evaluated not just from the practitioner’s perspective but through the victim’s lived experience. These original investigations reveal a nuanced approach to understanding social action, innovation, and the revitalization of tradition in colonial and post-colonial societies undergoing rapid social transformation.

Douglas Farrer is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Guam. He is the author of Shadows of the Prophet: Martial Arts and Sufi Mysticism (Springer), and co-author of Martial Arts as Embodied Knowledge: Asian Traditions in a Transnational World (SUNY).

Subject: General Anthropology Religion General Cultural Studies

LC: GN497 .W284 2016

BISAC: SOC002010 SOCIAL SCIENCE/Anthropology/Cultural; SOC039000 SOCIAL SCIENCE/Sociology of Religion; OCC028000 BODY, MIND & SPIRIT/Magick Studies

BIC: JHMC Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography; HRLF Worship, rites & ceremonies


List of Illustrations

Introduction: War Magic: Religion, Sorcery, and Performance
D. S. Farrer

Chapter 1. Tangki War Magic: Spirit Warfare in Singapore
Margaret Chan

Chapter 2. Javanese Ritual Initiation: Invulnerability, Authority, and Spiritual Improvement
Jean-Marc de Grave

Chapter 3. Discourse of Decline: Sumatran Perspectives on Black Magic
J. David Neidel

Chapter 4. Tamil Tiger Ritual, War, and Mystical Empowerment
Michael Roberts

Chapter 5. Shamanic Battleground in Venezuela
Zeljko Jokic

Chapter 6. Chants of Re-enchantment: Chamorro Spiritual Resistance to Colonial Domination
D. S. Farrer and James D. Sellmann

Chapter 7. War Magic and Just War in Indian Tantric Buddhism
Iain Sinclair


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