Author: Holly Walters, a cultural anthropologist at Wellesley College, United States. Her work focuses on religion, language, and ritual practice in South Asia. Her current research addresses issues of political practice and ritual mobility in the high Himalayas of Mustang, Nepal among Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims who venerate sacred ammonite fossils, called Shaligrams. Holly is … Continue reading A Cultural Zoo: Shaligram Stone in an Ammonite World
I debated for quite a long while as to what kind of second project I thought would be the most useful, given the circumstances. ... My main concern, however, remains: what will be the most accessible and useful for Shaligram practitioners themselves?
I’ll spare you the worst of it but I will tell you that, some agonizing moments later, I was able to reach my field knife while he was momentarily distracted. With it, I finally fought him off [...] The entire ordeal probably lasted no more than a few minutes but it changed a great many things afterwards.
One of the most popular jokes among anthropologists is how often our work is mistaken for palaeontology. Almost every one of my colleagues and even a few of my students can relate an anecdote involving a situation where they were asked if they “dug up dinosaurs.” Imagine the difficulty I now face in my own work where the answer is effectively, “Yes, but not for the reasons you’re thinking.”