ANTH 3348 Lecture Notes - Lecture 17: Veneration Of The Dead, Meddle, Dennis Brain

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ANTH 3348
Powers, Dangers and Mana … “God’s Plan”
Many cultures have a concept of a divine plan
Satan or some malicious force can foil or meddle with god’s divine plan
o The presence of Satan or a devil is used as an explanation for people’s misfortune
“there is evil in the world”
Mana a term from Melanesian and Polynesian islands, it involves some kind of
generalized spiritual power, this power is usually very efficient, its more than just a
resource it is efficient, mana manifests in humans and human action
Max Weber’s concept of the elect, “you’re good because you’re rich and you’re rich
because you’re good”
Ancestor worship in asia and Africa, death is not sufficient for becoming an ancestor, one
has to be made an ancestor
o you have to be a parent
o ancestors have special ritual status, they are not only commemorated but there are
specific rituals that are required in order for your life to turn out well these
rituals may include prayer, libations
o most of the important rituals are rooted in the domestic household, they are
o genealogy is very important, often unilineal systems more specifically patrilineal
o there is the belief that the deceased continue to participate in the lives of their
o some people, however, follow all the rules and do everything that they are obliged
to do for their ancestors, but they still have misfortune
evil prenatal destiny is used to account for this an individual who is not
familiar with the customs, it is assumed because the person’s parents did
not raise them properly or whatever, so they are destined for evil since
o Igor Kopytoff
o Dennis Brain argued that in the African society where he worked that an elder
knows what you’re doing but ancestor knows what you’re thinking
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