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Ishmail R. Coleman 6.19.

2015 Applied Activity 20

1.) (Brown): "Vodou" "What views of the body, soul, and death are posited by Vodou?"
Within Vodou, the human is composed of the body, soul, and death. The body is
the physical dimension of the person which depletes after death, in which 2 of 4
souls perish as well. The gwo bonanj aspect of the soul continues to linger and
must be protected because it can be captured and used for sorcery. The ti bonanj
aspect of the soul is seen as the spiritual energy that is within the living person,
and the ghost of a dead person. Within vodou, there is a clear distinction between
dead and a spirit. There are two different aspects when dealing with living and
dead spirits, in which both can be utilized for different functions. From the
YouTube clip (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpeLdXeIbwA), it gave
insight on how basically although Haiti is a Catholic country, it still holds the
African traditions of Voodoo dearly within its system. It made me realize that the
system that is present is sort of a syncretism aspect, in which there are multiple
combinations. However, I view it as being an answer to the European views of
religion which the slaves were under once they came to Haiti. I also found it
interesting that Vodou is incorporated in the lives of Haitians and isn’t shunned or
looked down upon as it would be in different regions. The video made me look
at voodoo more of a religious and spiritual system instead of witchcraft as it is
commonly portrayed in the media and other aspects. Furthermore, the video
made me realize that it is incorporated within the everyday life of the Haitians and
isn’t just used when it is needed for good/evil purposes.

2.) (Metcalf): "Death Be Not Strange" Answer the study question on p. 343: "How do
Berawan practices of 'secondary burial' mirror beliefs about the afterlife? Given this
worldview, why do Berawan find U.S. embalming practices objectionable?"
The Berawan practices of secondary burial mirrors beliefs about the afterlife
because it showcases the belief that the fate of the body provides a model for the
fate of the soul. The Berawan believe that after death, the soul is divorced from
the body and cannot reanimate the already decaying corpse, and the soul cannot
enter the land of the dead because it is not a perfect spirit. In order to become a
perfect spirit, the body must undergo a metamorphosis or transformation. Thus,
during the Berawan secondary burial practice, as the body rots to leave dry bones,
the soul is transformed properly into spirit form. This process allows the soul to
properly access the land of the dead and the remains can be placed with ancestors.
Thus, the American practice of embalming shock the Berawan people because by
delaying the decomposition of the corpse, this is committing an unnatural act in
which we trap the deceased in a unhappy condition in between the spirit world
and the regular world, which bring a host of evil spirits.
Ishmail R. Coleman 6.19.2015 Applied Activity 20

3.) (Conklin): "Cannibal Epistemologies" Read this article carefully. Then I want you to
consider what you have learned and apply it to the belief and practice of Catholic
transubstantiation. Look this word up and then evaluate whether you believe this practice
might be seen etically as either endocannibalism or exocannibalism. Also visit some sites
which deny this, such as http://itsjustdave1988.blogspot.com/2009/08/why-is-partaking-
of-holy-eucharist-not.html. Do not "be a Believer" on this question. Be an anthropologist.
Looking at this from the outside, what do you think and why? (approx. 250 words).

After reading the article and looking up the meaning of Catholic transubstantiation, I can
see the correlation between that and Cannibalism. Although Catholic transubstantiation
doesn’t involve actually eating the flesh and blood of Christ or another human, that is
what is assumed, which must be taken into consideration of why it is told to be the flesh
and blood of Christ. What psychological ideas are being placed into the atmosphere
when you declare the wine and bread to be flesh and blood. I feel that once it is declared,
then you are psychologically telling the people that it is supposed to be that, so how is it
any different than people actually eating flesh and blood of their own people, especially if
it brings about the same similar aspects on why they are doing. I make the correlation
between Catholic transubstantiation and medical cannibalism practices in Europe in
which they use to drink the blood of people in order to supposedly cure illness. The
actions of transubstantiation are similar but take on a spiritual healing aspect, and
personify the objects that are being used to represent the flesh and blood. This goes back
to the discussions that we have about symbolism and how those play into a larger
religious system which we utilize and thrive from. But the debate comes into play when
defining transubstantiation as being cannibalism for the simple fact that it is not actually
flesh and blood. However, when examining the definition of transubstantiation,
according to the process, the wine and bread are transformed into the blood and flesh, so
under that aspect, you are consuming blood and flesh. Thus under those standpoints,
transubstantiation can be seen as a symbolic aspect of endocannibalism.

4.) (Norget): "Day of the Dead in Oaxaca" Respond to this piece reflectively. Write 1-2
paragraphs describing what you have learned in this article. (approx 150 words)

While reading this article, it correlated with the other articles in the aspect that
every region and culture has some belief on the afterlife and a specific ceremony
to go with it. This showcases the cultural interconnectedness that the world has
when it comes to the dead, in which this article reminded me of the Vodou article
and other topics about the afterlife that I have read. One thing I did learn within
this article was that the family members build alters for their offering of food and
drink and other things that they want to represent their loved ones. I didn’t know
that this was practiced during the day of the dead and I thought that it was just one
Ishmail R. Coleman 6.19.2015 Applied Activity 20

big party/ceremony. After learning that, I began to draw similarities between this
Day of the Dead ceremony and other religions such as Buddhism, and Hinduism
in which they make similar gestures for their dead and their ancestors.
Furthermore, I learned that the idea of death is in correlation with the meaning of
life, in which the two aspects balance each other and is part of a natural exchange,
in which I didn’t really look at death as being an equalizer within the aspect of
nature.

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