How to do things with “rituals” in Byans, Far Western Nepal

Apr 16, 2014 | 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Nawa Katsuo (Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, the University of Tokyo; HYI Visiting Scholar)
Chair and Discussant: Michael Puett (Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History, EALC, Harvard University)

Co-sponsored with the Department of South Asian Studies, Harvard University
The main inhabitants of Byans, a Himalayan valley in Far Western Nepal, have performed various standardized sequences of actions which anthropologists have called rituals. In this talk, Prof. Nawa will describe these “rituals” ethnographically without presupposing that they are rituals. Many of these “rituals” are conceptualized as verbs, and almost always “done” by carrying out one, two, of three named small actions. Prof. Nawa will discuss what they “physically” do in these “rituals,” what they call these “rituals” and particular actions, how they explain them, and what these “rituals” as a whole and particular actions “bring about,” referring to but not relying on such terms as “symbol,” “structure,” “function,” “interpretation,” “ideology,” “resistance,” “-ization,” “aesthetics,” and “ritual” itself.