Past events

RAI Research Seminar: Jonathan Roper
Wednesday 17 February 2016, 05:30pm - 07:30pm
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RAI RESEARCH SEMINAR

Joint seminar with the Folklore Society

SEMINAR SERIES AT THE ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE

The Texts of Charms, the Contexts of Charming

Dr Jonathan Roper (Estonia)

Wednesday 17 February at 5.30 pm

Complementing the work of Social Anthropologists and Linguistic Anthropologists, Folklorists have centred their attention on traditional verbal genres. Although pride of place in the annals of folklore research has been taken by the "long", narrative genres, short forms, including proverbs, riddles and blason populaire, have also been popular foci. Verbal charms have been my own chief research interest, following a chance field encounter in 1995. Charms, a verbal genre somewhere inbetween prayers and spells, were (and indeed in some places still are) used to heal, for agricultural success, in love divination, to avert misfortune, and so on. Often, the words used in charming are not improvisations, but are conceivable as variants of ‘types’. Some of these charm-types are highly local (e.g. in an English context would be restricted to a single county), while others have a significantly international, multilingual and transtemporal distribution. But, according to local systems of belief, knowing the text of a charm is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for practical success. A fuller understanding involves the contexts of charming, as well as the texts of charms. To speak a little about the ‘rules’ regarding e.g. how charms are used in practice and how they are transmitted from one person to another, I will draw on my fieldwork in western Newfoundland.

This event is free, but tickets must be booked. To book tickets please go to http://jonathanroper.eventbrite.co.uk

Location 3