Cosmologies of Suffering: Post-communist Transformation, Sacral Communication, and Healing

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9781847182586: Cosmologies of Suffering: Post-communist Transformation, Sacral Communication, and Healing

The edited volume elaborates on a range of themes that emerged during a workshop of the 8th biennial of the European Association of Social Anthropologists in Vienna in 2004. Among these themes are: the paradoxical permanence of transition in post-communist countries, the accompanying persistence of social suffering and the structural conditions that give rise to it. A final theme focuses on the re­sources that people mobilize to cope with suffering and trauma. Ways of coping manifest a stance towards agency shared by sufferers from diverse post-communist regions, such as ethnically divided Croatia, politically and economically unstable Zimbabwe, relatively more peaceful countries such as Hungary, Poland and Slovenia, and, finally, two religiously unique areas in Siberia, Russia. Ethnographic accounts from these diverse settings testify that agency has often involved relinquishing reliance on one s self and turning towards a power higher than the self, whether this is conceptualized through the lens of transcendence, religion, or cosmology. This is a fascinating new series of ethnograhic studies of specific, mostly Eastern European and ex-Soviet mystically-orientated communities, grappling with existential issues of suffering and meaning(lessness). Following the collapse of Soviet hegemonic communism and the well-known revitalisation of traditional and New Age worldviews, many people have embraced alternative cosmologies to generate new identities and meanings that are not dependant on empirically- derived positivistic perspectives. This book is major theoretical and ethnographically-based contribution to understanding the profound social and personal transformations of worldviews and lived practices that have subsequently developed. Professor Iain Edgar, Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Durham, UK

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About the Author:

Clara Sarmento, PhD in Contemporary Portuguese Culture, develops her research on intercultural representations of gender, as the coordinator of the Centre for Intercultural Studies of the Polytechnic Institute of Oporto, where she holds her teaching position.

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