Rhetoric, poetics, performance. Ritual and its dynamics among the Jenu Kurumba (South India). Including interactive multimedia CD ROM
In their rituals the Jenu Kurumba debate and interact with their ancestors and deceased Ð mediated by their shamans. It is shown how the participants construct and transform their social world (ideas of community, morals, justice, suffering, person, etc.) in an interplay of argumentation, poetic imagination, and theatrical-performative action. The book is thus based on classical theories (like V. Turner, C. Geertz) but rather stresses rituals as verbal (conversational) and dynamic, and rhetorical-poetic practices. The last chapter discusses if and how this social-constructionist perspective may give new impulses to the anthropological notion of culture. Demmer first discusses ritual theories ("from symbolic representation to discoursive performance"), then presents the Jenu Kurumba in the Nilgiris (community, shamans, ritualists, musicians, magic and morals), the healing ritual and its complex processes of interaction/communication, a concrete case of the death of a woman with the ritual processes involved, the death ritual (performance and the rhetoric of remembering), and the last chapter discussing ritual, rhetoric, poiesis, and culture as a "tradition of arguing". There are some 40 pages of original conversations in the Jenu Kurumba language, parts of which are translated into German, and a CD is included which visualizes the results.