Online Journal of Anthropology

Volume 15, Number 2, 2019

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 La plante alan et le culte des ancêtres chez les Fang du Gabon


The alan plant and the ancestor cult among the Fangs of Gabon” - During the past centuries, the Fang, a Bantu-speaking ethnic group of the Western Equatorial Africa, used the hallucinogenic plant alan (Alchornea floribunda) in their Byeri initiatory ceremonies. Byeri was a cult of ancestors that involved the conservation and worship of the ancestors’ skulls. Despite the assertions that this cult has disappeared, it continues to be practised by today’s younger Fang members in a modified, simplified form, as a way of reviving traditional values. This article brings together the few ethnographical data on the Byeri – a cult kept secret – including the data collected by the author during his research in Gabon.

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L’arte rupestre camuna tra Cervi, Caccia Selvaggia, Aquane e Nani minatori

In this paper I’ trying to show that there is a relationship between rock art, a site where rock art is placed and the wider landscape, articulated according to the Camunian “mindscape” in Valcamonica, Italy. In particular, I believe rock art may be regarded, making Lødøen’s felicitous phrase my own, as a ‘consumption of souls’ within an animistic understanding of the world. I think the importance of mining copper and iron in relation to petroglyphs in Valcamonica has been underestimated so far, and I have tried to show its strong symbolic relationships. I believe I have made quite clear the symbolical connections between a certain type of landscape, a gulch with a strong hydrocentric focus, thundering noises, mining, metallurgy and deer, thanks to linguistic analysis, which shows how the same kind of landscape and similar mythologies can be found over an extremely wide territory. We do not know what the religious beliefs of the ancient Camunians were, similarities with neighboring populations aside, but linguistic analysis, anthropological as well as archaeological comparison and the study of both local folklore and archaic Aegean beliefs, allows us to hypothesize a more detailed picture of the Camunian thought in the Iron Age.

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Formazione e idealizzazione di tesi assiomatiche in ambito scientifico. Il caso di Licini Forum


The study examines the attempts to identify the settlement of the Orobi tribe, called Licini Forum in a passage of Pliny’s Naturalis Historia, based on a lost text by Cato. The opinions of the scholars, since Sixteenth century up to contemporary age, are summarized. Finally, a new interpretation is proposed, founded on the assumption of an error in the manuscript tradition between Cato and Plinius. The dynamics emerging from this case study are common in several areas of scientific knowledge.

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L’accusa di stregoneria nel sistema giudiziario in Repubblica Centrafricana

This article is an effort to understand today’s re-significations of the phenomenon of witchcraft, and how it is intertwined in the meshes of the social fabric of contemporary Africa, penetrating every aspect, up to the point of being used as a means of prosecution during judicial trials. Together with this, the gender issue makes the picture more complex and articulated; incorporating today’s social tensions, women very often suffer a stigmatization that leads them to be labeled as sorcières, and therefore imprisoned as required by the Penal Code of the Central African Republic. The first part of the article focuses on the various readings of the phenomenon of witchcraft, of which the legal one is discussed in the second part. The last section is dedicated to the gender issue, also addressed from a historical perspective.
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Etnografia di un’esperienza in carcere

This article analyzes the experience of one of the author’s acquaintances, who served almost a month in jail and compares the mechanisms within a current Italian prison with those described in the classics of ethnography and sociology of prisons and in particular in Goffman’s writings, finding intriguing and disturbing similarities in the mechanisms of a typical closed institution..

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Evaluating Factors Affecting Resilience of Natural Resource Dependent Community: A Case of the Tai Khamtis of Arunachal Pradesh, India

Following forest regulations and conservation interventions, many forest-dependent communities across India has experienced a gradual transition from their traditional livelihood based on natural resources to a more diversified economy. To better understand the differences in the ability to adapt to change, this paper focuses on the concept of community resilience and identifies factors that can contribute to successful economic transitions among indigenous communities. This is a regional case study of the Tai Khamti tribe of Arunachal Pradesh, India, which has experienced drastic socio-economic transition following the Supreme Court’s ban on timber in 1996. It proposes that efforts towards enhancing the resiliency factors of any forest-dependent community can contribute to their sustainable development as well as help to mitigate the shortcomings of forest policies.

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A Study on Dermatoglyphic Patterns Among The Healthy and Hypertensive Bengali Population of Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Dermatoglyphics is the analysis of fingerprints as a genetic marker used in disease prognosis and diagnosis. The present study is an endeavor to apprehend the relationship between palmar dermatoglyphics and the incidence of hypertension. The dermatoglyphic analysis was carried out among (81 hypertensives and 82 normal controls) of both sexes, using the black ink method. The hypertensive males had significantly (p<0.01) higher incidence of whorls and low frequency of ulnar loops (left hand, right hand and both hands) when compared with their normal control groups. Consequently, when the hypertensives (sex combined) were in comparison with the normal control group, the frequency of whorls was significantly high (p<0.01). A significant difference (p<0.01) in the mean values (males) of AFRC and PII was noted between the hypertensives and the normal controls. Nevertheless there was no significant difference in the mean values of TFRC, “atd” angles and MLI. Therefore, dermatoglyphics can be considered as a simple, non-invasive and inexpensive technique which can be used as a screening tool for the prognosis of the disease, hypertension for the early identification and determination of the disease.

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Unity and Social Solidarity in a Tribal Village of Dooars

Following Rudra Datt Singh’a work at Senapur (U.P.), this paper studies the Kodal Basti village on the basis of Prof. Sing’s methodology. Kodal Basti is a tribal village in the Dooars region where the 100% ethnic population is tribal. Here live only the Oraon and Rabha communities, which belong respectively to the Proto-Australoid and Mongoloid stocks. The village economy is totally dependent on the forest, paddy cultivation and nut farming. In this article, based on field work where data were collected with the help of Observation, Interview, Schedule, FGD, and Case Study, their social, economical, political and religious unity are discussed in detail.

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Troubled Mind and Healing Rituals: Re-Thinking Mental Health

This paper presents nine cases of troubled mind and healing rituals during a short field work in different healing sites in Delhi. Following the WHO’s promotion of the integration of traditional medicines, AYUSH and allopathic medicine, India has integrated traditional medicines as an integral part of our cultural heritage, to support allopathic medicine, especially in cases concerning mental health issues.

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Prevalence of hypertension and its concomitants: An exploratory study among a group of bus drivers in Kolkata, West Bengal

The present study was carried out in Kolkata to find out the prevalence of hypertension among bus drivers and if any concomitant factor(s) is/are responsible for it. Bus drivers, a vulnerable occupational group, are exposed to adverse workplace environmental conditions which play major role in developing hypertension among them. This study indicates that a prolonged exposure to smoking, alcohol, street food intake and overtime working may augment the chance of developing hypertension. Prevalence of pre-hypertension is a matter of concern for the safety of bus drivers as well as of community.

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The Determinants of the Fertility Differentials among the Bishnupriyas of Manipur, North East India

Fertility is one of the most important determinants of population dynamics that has the highest significant contribution towards population size and structure in the world. The study of human fertility is of the utmost importance in population studies. For the purpose of the study, a descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted through a field-work based data collection with 627 Bishnupriya married women who are in the reproductive age (15 - 49 years) and have at least one child in 601 households in the Ngaikhong Khullen village of Bishnupur District, Manipur. Factors were checked for association with total children ever born (TCEB) by using of chi-square test and binary logistic regression was applied to determine the effect of socio-demographic and economic factors on TCEB. The present study shows that the mother’s age, age at marriage, and household income have a significant effect on the total number of children ever born at a significance level of 5%.

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Medical choices of a disaster-prone Bangladeshi village: An ethnographic study

A highly advanced contemporary health system exists in Bangladesh and provides health services to all tiers of Bengali society. However, because of the insufficiency of medical infrastructures and shortage of manpower, the benefits of modern health care did not exist in the study area (November 2010 to June 2011), albeit highly needed. Culture of poverty, remoteness, lack of professional physician, cost of health care, lack of transport facilities, and lack of knowledge, superstition strongly influenced to take decisions for choosing sectors of health care in Char Majhira.

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Socio Economic Analysis of Sillekyatha Community in Mysore City, Karnataka

The study was conducted to assess the Socio-economic status of the Sillekyatha community of Ekalavyanagara, Mysore city of Karnataka. More than half of the respondents belonged to middle age group and were illiterates. Their traditional occupation was the leather puppet show (Togalu Gombe Aata). Most of them live in kutcha (hut) dwellings (98%). More than half of the respondents belonged to the low income group and had a nuclear family (93%). They live in poor sanitation conditions and unhygienic routine practices (lack of toilets and sanitary conditions for women in the community) with a semi-nomadic lifestyle and unhealthy feeding habits.

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The Anthropology of Food: Core and Fringe in the Angami Naga Diet

Anthropologists have studied food cultures long before food studies gained interest among scholars; yet this issue was studied merely as a means to understand other aspects of a culture rather than a central idea, until recently. Today the anthropological study of food has matured enough to serve as a medium to understand other aspects of culture. The present paper is an attempt to study the dietary elements or patterns of the Angami Nagas, one of the major tribes of Nagaland, whose staple food is rice; its cultivation is still of the utmost economic importance even today. Sydney Mintz’ (2001) proposed the concept of core and fringe element in the food we eat which is common to all agrarian societies. Thus, following Mintz’ concept of agrarian food the element of core and fringe as well as the function of legume in the Angami diet, its preparation and consumption will be discussed.

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An Ethnolinguistic Profile of Bangru: The Lesser-Known Language Community of Arunachal Pradesh, India

This paper attempts to present an ethnolinguistic profile of Bangru, the lesser-known language spoken mainly in 15 Bangru villages of the Sarli circle of the Kurung Kumey district in Arunachal Pradesh. Bangru language may be included in the Tibeto-Burman language family, though no evidence is available on its language affiliation. It is different from the languages of Nyishi and Puroik tribes residing in the same district, though they have social and cultural close affinities among them. However, while the Bangru language has been largely influenced by the Nyishi and it is used very much a mixed form of speech at present. But it would not be wrong to opine that the Bangru language is remarkably pure. Due to a prolonged and intense language contact with the Nyishi and Puroik languages, Bangru reflects remarkable changes in the linguistic structures. The status of the language shows serious signs of endangerment.

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Gone but not Forgotten: Death Rituals among the Meiteis of Manipur

The present study attempts to describe and analyse the death rituals of the Meitei people, a major ethnic group of Manipur, one of the north-eastern states of India. Observation and interview methods were employed for data collection during fieldwork from January to December 2016. There are five distinct stages in the death ritual of the Meitei people: funeral rites (cremation), Mangani Leihun, Lalna Thouram, Thagi Chak Pijaba (monthly food offering) and Kumon Phiroi (first death anniversary). These rituals not only mark the passage of one stage of life to another, express their social identity and belief system, but also build up social relationships and keep those relationships alive and functioning.

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