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Friday, May 13, 2005

anthropology in the web: "Cycles of Life"

Anthro at the U. of Helsinki is having an interesting seminar on India at the moment. Two of the participants, Ákos Östör of Wesleyan and Lina Fruzzetti of Brown have been frequent visitors to our department in the last years. Ákos presented the web page based on their research on India called Vishnupur: Cycles of Life in a Bengali Town. I'm impressed, to say the least.

From the introduction:
The first installment of the project visits the Bishnupur town in the late 1960's and early 1970's, entering the social domains of sacred rituals and festivals, bazaar and markets, marriage rites and kinship relations, celebrations of death there are, as well, accounts of the temples, music, arts and crafts, local history. We endeavor to give internal views of using the concepts and categories employed by the townspeople themselves in ordering and comprehending their own lives, and in addition, we provide anthropological analyses here and interpretations based on the field research.

We chose to organize the site in terms of time and space. Cycles and cyclical time are still central to the ritual, family and economic lives of the town. Rpaid changes are transforming Bishnupur, so the second installment of the project will concern the transformations that have occurred between 1967 and 2003.

The notion of cycle is linked to that of space: segments of the circular plane of the calendar and signs on the map refer to each other just as a stroll through the town evoke time based events than and now. Cycles and maps link localities, festivals, social groups, exchanges, and bring the past to the present within the year and the whole of human life.

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