Guest post at Lee Cronk and Beth Leech’s Meeting at Grand Central blog.
People in every society face similar challenges when trying to cooperate: Whom can you trust? Who will have your back? How can you avoid getting ripped off? However, while these problems exist in every society, there are also locally specific versions of the same problems. How do people overcome the dilemmas inherent in social living? How do people contend with locally specific versions of social dilemmas? Read more…
Abstract: Many anthropologists of Inner Asia have examined the use of ritual cairns that pepper the landscape of the region. These cairns are devoted to a variety of spirits and are typically placed on territorial borders. Cairn rites devoted to these spirits can be both collective and individualized affairs, and some anthropologists have suggested that collective cairn rites may facilitate a stronger sense of in-group solidarity, which, in turn, must be predicated on a heightened sense of trustworthiness signaled by ritual participants. The present work investigates whether or not people in the Tyva Republic find others who regularly participate in cairn practices as more trustworthy than those who do not engage in such rituals. Indeed, ethnic Tyvans who regularly participate in these rites are perceived as more trustworthy than ethnic Tyvans, Christian Tyvans, and Christian Russians who do not. These findings strongly suggest that cairn practices ritualistically display commitment to others and thus help explain why the tradition persists throughout Inner Asia.
Purzycki, B. G., and Arakchaa, T. (2013). Ritual Behavior and Trust in the Tyva Republic. Current Anthropology, 54(3): 381-388. Supplementary materials.
All who are not lunatics are agreed about certain things: That it is better to be alive than dead, better to be adequately fed than starved, better to be free than a slave. Many people desire those things only for themselves and their friends; they are quite content that their enemies should suffer. These people can be refuted by science: Mankind has become so much one family that we cannot insure our own prosperity- except by insuring that of everyone else. If you wish to be happy yourself, you must resign yourself to seeing others also happy.
Flying Lotus: “Putty Boy Strut”