“Illness Is Nothing But Injustice”: The Revolutionary Element in Bengali Folk Healing

Hdl Handle:
http://hdl.handle.net/10034/604696
Title:
“Illness Is Nothing But Injustice”: The Revolutionary Element in Bengali Folk Healing
Authors:
Ferrari, Fabrizio M.
Abstract:
This article seeks to reflect on how concepts such as “ritual,” “illness,” and “health” are intertwined in the practice of Bengali healers and their customers. By objecting to past and present logics that ascribe to folk healing an innate subalternity because of context (e.g., the village), mode of transmission (e.g., orality), gender and social background of votaries (e.g., low-caste, working-class sectors), my analysis discusses health-seeking rituals as an arena for revolutionary negotiations. This character is determined by the willingness of healers, health-seekers, and other-than-human entities (deities, spirits, demons, ghosts, etc.) to counter relative injustice, negotiate power, and actualize redemption by means of a radical, though often temporary, subversion of or challenge to an established order. This reading, which I derive from Ernesto de Martino’s “progressive folklore,” wishes to contribute to discourses on religious folklore as a way of expressing, and perpetuating acceptable solutions to individual and social imbalance, including the perception of illness as uneven development. Folk healing is one of the liveliest forms of people’s knowledge; the actualization of ancestral needs; and one of the most easily available and culturally understandable form of creativity, reflexivity, and education. While critically addressing the limits of using de Martino’s theories in the frame of post-colonial ethnography, I go back to his definition of culture as the result of the “victorious struggle of health over the pitfalls of disease” ([1958] 2000:25) and discuss illness and its treatment among Bengali healers and their clients as ways to experience what de Martino called the expansion of self-consciousness.
Affiliation:
University of Chester
Citation:
Ferrari, F. M.. (2015). "Illness Is Nothing But Injustice": The Revolutionary Element in Bengali Folk Healing. The Journal of American Folklore, 128(507), 46–64. http://doi.org/10.5406/jamerfolk.128.507.0046
Publisher:
American Folklore Society
Journal:
Journal of American Folklore
Publication Date:
2015
URI:
http://hdl.handle.net/10034/604696
DOI:
10.5406/jamerfolk.128.507.0046
Additional Links:
http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/journal_of_american_folklore/v128/128.507.ferrari.html
Type:
Article
Language:
en
Description:
Published as Ferrari, F. M.. (2015). "Illness Is Nothing But Injustice": The Revolutionary Element in Bengali Folk Healing. The Journal of American Folklore, 128(507), 46–64. http://doi.org/10.5406/jamerfolk.128.507.0046 . © 2015 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
ISSN:
00218715
Appears in Collections:
Theology and Religious Studies

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.contributor.authorFerrari, Fabrizio M.en
dc.date.accessioned2016-04-07T08:15:03Zen
dc.date.available2016-04-07T08:15:03Zen
dc.date.issued2015en
dc.identifier.citationFerrari, F. M.. (2015). "Illness Is Nothing But Injustice": The Revolutionary Element in Bengali Folk Healing. The Journal of American Folklore, 128(507), 46–64. http://doi.org/10.5406/jamerfolk.128.507.0046en
dc.identifier.issn00218715en
dc.identifier.doi10.5406/jamerfolk.128.507.0046en
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10034/604696en
dc.descriptionPublished as Ferrari, F. M.. (2015). "Illness Is Nothing But Injustice": The Revolutionary Element in Bengali Folk Healing. The Journal of American Folklore, 128(507), 46–64. http://doi.org/10.5406/jamerfolk.128.507.0046 . © 2015 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.en
dc.description.abstractThis article seeks to reflect on how concepts such as “ritual,” “illness,” and “health” are intertwined in the practice of Bengali healers and their customers. By objecting to past and present logics that ascribe to folk healing an innate subalternity because of context (e.g., the village), mode of transmission (e.g., orality), gender and social background of votaries (e.g., low-caste, working-class sectors), my analysis discusses health-seeking rituals as an arena for revolutionary negotiations. This character is determined by the willingness of healers, health-seekers, and other-than-human entities (deities, spirits, demons, ghosts, etc.) to counter relative injustice, negotiate power, and actualize redemption by means of a radical, though often temporary, subversion of or challenge to an established order. This reading, which I derive from Ernesto de Martino’s “progressive folklore,” wishes to contribute to discourses on religious folklore as a way of expressing, and perpetuating acceptable solutions to individual and social imbalance, including the perception of illness as uneven development. Folk healing is one of the liveliest forms of people’s knowledge; the actualization of ancestral needs; and one of the most easily available and culturally understandable form of creativity, reflexivity, and education. While critically addressing the limits of using de Martino’s theories in the frame of post-colonial ethnography, I go back to his definition of culture as the result of the “victorious struggle of health over the pitfalls of disease” ([1958] 2000:25) and discuss illness and its treatment among Bengali healers and their clients as ways to experience what de Martino called the expansion of self-consciousness.en
dc.language.isoenen
dc.publisherAmerican Folklore Societyen
dc.relation.urlhttp://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/journal_of_american_folklore/v128/128.507.ferrari.htmlen
dc.subjectIndiaen
dc.subjectBengalen
dc.subjectHinduismen
dc.subjecthealthen
dc.subjectritualen
dc.subjectErnesto de Martinoen
dc.subjectfolkloreen
dc.title“Illness Is Nothing But Injustice”: The Revolutionary Element in Bengali Folk Healingen
dc.typeArticleen
dc.contributor.departmentUniversity of Chesteren
dc.identifier.journalJournal of American Folkloreen
dc.date.accepted2000-01-01en
or.grant.openaccessNoen
rioxxterms.funderxxen
rioxxterms.identifier.projectxxen
rioxxterms.versionVoRen
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