The principal purpose of the study is to explore the significance of belian rituals in practice. It asks what belian rituals do - socially, politically, and existentially - for particular people in particular circumstances. Departing from conventional conceptions of rituals as ethereal liminal or insulated traditional domains, it demonstrates the importance of understanding rituals as emergent within their specific historical and social settings, and highlights the irreducibility of lived reality to epistemological certainty. Each chapter of the book represents an analysis of a concrete ritual performance, exemplifying a diversity of ritual genres, stylistic modalities and sensual ambiences, ranging from low-keyed, habitual affairs to drawn-out, crowd-seizing community rituals and innovative, montage-like cultural experiments. The study is based on eighteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in non-Christian Central Luangan communities in which ritual and everyday life are complexly intermixed. It is intended as a contribution to the anthropological study of ritual and to the ethnography of Borneo religion in which the study of shamanistic life rituals has been overshadowed by a long-standing fascination with death and funerary rites.
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