Tassi, “Dancing the Image”

Tassi, Nico. 2012. “Dancing the Image”: materiality and spirituality in Andean religious “images.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute  18(2):285-310.

Abstract:

In the Christian tradition, representing the divine has often been considered both an impossible and yet necessary endeavour rooted in the human need in certain moments of weakness to visualize God. In this article, based on research findings from fieldwork carried out with urban indigenous groups in La Paz, Bolivia, I suggest that the articulation of local and Catholic representational traditions and practices has produced an understanding of the religious image not so much as an object of detached contemplation or a reference to a religious symbol but rather as an energized element which physically shapes the relationship and exchange between the material and the spiritual world. I suggest that through a study of Andean religious images we may be able to produce an alternative ontological perspective on the relationship between the spiritual, material, and living worlds.

Résumé

Dans la tradition chrĂ©tienne, la reprĂ©sentation du divin est souvent considĂ©rĂ©e comme une gageure impossible et pourtant nĂ©cessaire, motivĂ©e par la nĂ©cessitĂ© humaine de visualiser Dieu dans les moments de faiblesse. Ă€ partir des matĂ©riaux de terrain obtenus auprès de groupes autochtones urbains Ă  La Paz, en Bolivie, l’auteur suggère ici que l’articulation des traditions et pratiques de reprĂ©sentation locales et catholiques a conduit Ă  concevoir l’image religieuse moins comme un objet de contemplation dĂ©tachĂ©e ou une rĂ©fĂ©rence Ă  un symbole religieux que comme un Ă©lĂ©ment chargĂ© d’Ă©nergie, qui donne physiquement forme Ă  la relation et aux Ă©changes entre le monde matĂ©riel et le monde spirituel. L’article suggère qu’Ă  travers l’Ă©tude des images religieuses andines, on pourrait Ă©laborer un autre point de vue ontologique sur la relation entre les mondes spirituel, matĂ©riel et vivant.