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Reading and Writing (to) the Devi: Reflections on Unanticipated Ritualized Ethnography

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image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

This article relates an event that effectively erases the distinguishing markers between the practices of fieldwork, writing, and ritual. This merging of performance genres provides an opportunity to consider three themes that surface regularly in recent ethnographic and ritual theory: bodily knowledge, reflexivity, and indeterminacy. In this article I will explore how these themes are relevant not only to ritual and ethnographic practice in general but to rituals performed at a Sri Lankan goddess temple in the town of Rush outside Rochester, New York, where I have conducted fieldwork since 1998. My aim in speaking about ritual and ethnography in the same breath, framed by my experience of collapsing practices, is to highlight what these endeavors have to say about our multifaceted ways of perceiving and knowing.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin;, Email:


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