“The Art of Requesting: Anthropological Studies of Supplications and poverties” Call for an edited volumen

We invite submissions for a peer-reviewed, edited volume of works that explore supplications or asking rituals in specific ethnographic cases. Of particular interest is how prayers or asking rituals produce hope and constantly redefine notions of pity, poverty, and deprivation in the American continent, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Contributions might examine various acts of prayer and oral rites and how, through them, the indigenous poor contradict state and transnational definitions of poverty and account for natural resources according to particular property regimes.

We are interested in works that approach this line of query from various directions, however, and encourage submissions that address requesting, oral rites and poverty in invigorating ways.

 Potential questions/topics to be addressed include, but are not limited to, the following:

   – Rogation prayers and asking rituals

   – The particular use of oral rites in defining factors of poverty

   – The significance of favor and compassion in particular indigenous ideologies

   – Asking for money, development and representation from governments

   – The conceptualization of new subjectivities through requesting   performances and, in turn, the potential of the indigenous poor in national politics

   – How individual prayers and community rites address masters and forces  of nature


Interested contributors are invited to send an abstract of 250 words and a brief biographical sketch by March 30, 2014 to askingrituals@gmail.com.

Contributions should be roughly 6,000 words (prepared according to the latest version of the MLA style) and submitted by May 30, 2014.

Submissions may be written in Portuguese, Spanish, English, or French.



In many American indigenous contexts, rites, prayers and invocations to spiritual “guardians”, “masters” or “owners” of the land, the forest, water, and various species of plants and animals are used to reverse cycles of famine, poverty and lack of food, rain and health. As the protectors and owners of natural resources–including plants, animals, territories, and other entities (Seeger 1981: 181)–these spirits seem to extend a metaphorical link between fatherhood and motherhood and numerous contexts in everyday life (Viveiros de Castro 2002: 82; Fausto 2008). The social life of humans has been depicted as an outcome of diverse social relationships with these non-human “masters” and “owners” of animals, plants, and other kinds of persons (yoqta siyaxaua or “true persons”) (Tola 2005: 121) with whom humans negotiate permanently. Through offerings and oral rites, including prayers and invocations, people practice gratitude and request abundant crops, hunting and fishing. Expressed differently according to local languages, these ritual practices are referred to in specific terms (Testart 1994: 58) ranging from “thank”, “lease or ask a favor” (Boas 1966 :170) to “exchange” or “purchase life” and “rain” (Terán and Rasmussen 2008, Dapuez 2011) and are generically identified as asking rituals (Benedict 1922, 1923) or supplications (Fassin 2000).