Research Dossiers

Lost in participative obervation? - Music and gesture in the rituals of “possession” or shamanism

The article starts out by clearly distinguishing shamanism and possession. The shaman enters into trance voluntarily and is considered to be a ‘musicker’. On the other hand, the possessed passively experiences the trance and is said to be ‘musicked’. Music plays a considerable role among the elements of the system of the ritual. Indeed, the musical instrument becomes a tool which provides rhythm to rituals, due to its inherent scenography and the emotional and sensitive charact5eristics that derive from it. The set of these features encourages individuals to enter into trance. In a social context, music provokes different reactions according to the people’s culture. Music and dance enable to explore unexpected and diverse territories of the human “supernature”.

Music and gesture in the rituals of “possession” or shamanism

Reading this book calls for a reflection on gesture and sound in the relationship to spirits. In particular, it leads to giving serious consideration to the issue of “authenticity”, notably concerning the behavior called “trance”: researchers do not always interrogate the use of this word. I will here develop a commentary in four points. First, I will highlight the figures of the shaman and the possessed, and the terms “musicker” [musiquant in the French-language original] and “musicked” [musiqué in the original] a taxonomy borrowed from Gilbert Rouget, in the course of the study of a Siberian case. Then I will examine the respective roles of the gesture and the word as ways of representing the spirits, which will thirdly lead me on to discuss the issue of syncretism and the adaptation of the rituals to social and religious changes. Finally, I will question the need to “go into trance” and to seek “authenticity” in the behavior, on the one hand, and in the facts of shamanism and possession[1] on the other.

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The Struggle for Armenian Culture and identity

A1We have chosen here to introduce the specificity of an ancient culture, too often overlooked because of its tragic historical context. Today, we are indeed witnessing the return to life of a little-known culture and country.

The sociological notion of identity has to do with a person's self-conception, social presentation, and more generally, the aspects of a person that make them unique, or qualitatively different from others. Identity can also be manifested in the bloodline, land, language, history, culture and religion.

At the end of Antiquity, the Middle East was indeed shared between different territorially-disputed Empires: notably the Persian, the Byzantine and the Armenian. Our purpose here will be to explain the checkered destiny of the latter, and the construction of it culture through different ages and in different localities.

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Muslim Women and the Veiling Fashion Industry in Turkey

Fashion shoot for Âlâ magazine in Istanbul (Turkey)  Fashion shoot for Âlâ magazine in Istanbul (Turkey)

Abstract : Since the 80’s, Muslim veiled women became more and more visible in the Turkish public space. A new way to claim their belonging both to Islam and Fashion appeared with what has been called the Tesuttür fashion. Understand the mechanisms of Veiling Fashion industry leads us to rethink Turkish modernity issues and to capture the diversity of its social practices. A careful consideration to the industrial fields mobilized by the producers as well as the resources developed by the Muslim consumers is necessary to analyze the success of this industry.

Keywords : Turkey, Islam, modernity, veiling, fashion, neoliberalism, industry, consumption, communication

Résumé : Depuis les années 1980 la visibilité de femmes musulmanes voilées s’est accrue au sein de l’espace public turc. Une nouvelle façon de revendiquer à la fois son appartenance à la religion musulmane et à la sphère de la mode est ainsi apparue avec ce que l’on appelle la mode Tesuttür. Comprendre l’industrie de la mode du foulard islamique permet de repenser les enjeux de la modernité turque et d’y saisir la diversité des pratiques sociales. Analyser le succès de cette industrie nécessite donc d’accorder une attention particulière aux domaines industriels mobilisés par les producteurs et aux ressources mises en œuvre par les consommatrices musulmanes. 

Mots-clés : Turquie, islam, modernité, foulard, fashion, néolibéralisme, industrie, consommation, communication

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Religion and Philosophy: Jürgen Habermas’ Take on Religion

Photo4257Few German philosophers of the post-war area have managed to gain an international notoriety rivalling that of Jürgen Habermas. His thinking has informed many of the major debates in various fields during the last decennia. Aiming at a critical reconstruction of the emancipatory potential of Modernity, Habermas’ collected works guides its reader through the history of modern thought from the enlightenment to social theory, from idealism to pragmatism and linguistics. His appropriation of the various contents of our intellectual tradition has led Habermas to an all-encompassing theory of modernity and its immanent potentials.

The Emancipatory Potential of Communication

If we may still retain hope after two world wars accompanied by historically unprecedented degrees of horror, it is due to our being endowed with language and our capacity for rational discourse. This conception of man as a political animal endowed with reason and speech (λογος) goes back to Aristotle’s definition of the citizen of the polis. But Habermas pushes things further when he insists on the intersubjective basis of the exercise of reason. Man’s judgment becomes sound thanks to exchange and consultation with his fellow citizens. Accordingly, the state should do everything it can to foster reasonable discourse concerning political affairs.

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Research Dossier:Updating Religion and Philosophy, General Introduction


Historically, all the great world religions have been intrinsically linked to philosophical thought. In our research dossier we shall attempt to gain some insights into the philosophical and sociological analysis of religion by recent thinkers. In order to do so, we have chosen to present four very different approaches within the field in order to provide an overall impression of the diversity of contemporary discourse revolving around religion. So we here we shall be focusing on accounts of 1) a theory of myth,2) modern Islamic theology, 3) French sociology of religion and last but not least 4) an analysis of the  place of religion within modern democracies.

In our first article we show how Hans Blumenberg, one of the most eminent German philosophers of the second half of the 20th century, tackled the problem of myth. According to Blumenberg, the function of myth resides in its power to overcome man’s fear facing the ‘absolutism of reality’. By giving names to the different aspects of reality and by assigning different powers to different gods, man domesticates his environment by integrating it into his lifeworld.  Interaction with the world becomes possible through its differentiation into multiple aspects. This process of the ‘depotentialisation’ of the absolute is an ever ongoing process and the work on myth as a work on our way of relating to reality is followed up  by Blumenberg throughout the  intellectual history of the Occident in an amazing manner.

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