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Fetish/Fetishism

(1,031 words)

Author(s): Guzy, Lidia
Problems of the Concept 1. a) Belief in an object with supernatural powers of spell or enchantment, or in an object whose mysterious workings are venerated in cult—with blood sacrifice, for example—is often designated ‘fetishism.’ This notion must be applied with great caution, however—contrary to the general notion that they designate phenomena, they are in fact foreign explanatory constructs applied to misunderstood cultural systems. b) The use of the term ‘fetish,’ as a category for other systems of symbolical reference, began in 1481 with the Portuguese …

Ancestors

(1,032 words)

Author(s): Guzy, Lidia
Ancestors as Culture-Specific Figures 1. Ancestors are figures of immortality, specific to a given culture, who stand in a strong, identity-bestowing relationship to an individual and/or group. They may be ‘mighty,’ deceased, direct relatives, now reverenced and remembered by a family in ancestor worship. But they may also be personalities of high status (such as rulers) who are important to the community and whose veneration is characterized by periodically recurring rituals. A conceptualization of…

Gandhi, Mahatma

(885 words)

Author(s): Guzy, Lidia
Biographical Data 1. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, surnamed Mahatma (Sanskrit, ‘of the great atman’ or principle of life and consciousness in everyone, carrying or representing Brahman), is a key politico-religious personality of India's struggle for independence in the twentieth century. The power of the nonviolent resistance ( satyagraha) of this religious restorer, social reformer, champion of civil rights, and politician shed its light far beyond India. Gandhi was born in 1869, on the peninsula of Kathiavar/Gujarat, the son of a prime minister of Indian princes ( raja). The fa…