Epilogue: Ecstasy in Exile

Keith E. McNeal

in Trance and Modernity in the Southern Caribbean

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780813037363
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813042121 | DOI:
Epilogue: Ecstasy in Exile

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Despite the contrasting political fates of the study's focal traditions examined above, social class and bourgeois sentiment nonetheless influence the politics of Indocentrists and Afrocentrists across the ethnoracial spectrum. Indocentrists have generally embraced a gentrified form of “mainstream” Hinduism that looks down upon ecstatic religious practices such as spirit mediumship, firewalking, or animal sacrifice as “backward” or “premodern.” Afrocentrists, by contrast, and despite their political embrace of a subaltern tradition centered on trance ceremonialism, nonetheless tend to be less involved in the everyday activities of grassroots shrines and shy away from the theatrical dramaturgy of trance performance toward more middle-class-inflected forms of devotion, including their politics itself. An Epilogue considers the ways these materials substantiate the theory that religious charisma in the context of modernity may be understood as a dialectical counterpoint to the liberal bourgeois ethic of possessive individualism. The fate of trance in modernity is re-examined in contradistinction to conventional assumptions regarding secularization; the idea of spirits as sites of transculturation is elaborated; the politics of liberalism and religion clarified in relation to structural marginalization of trance and popular ecstasy; and the ludic themes in these materials understood as forms of “deep play.”

Keywords: liberalism; politics of religion; possessive individualism; proprietorial humanism; secularization; transculturation; deep play

Chapter.  5090 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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