Gardenour, Brenda / Tadd, Misha (eds.)
Parasites, Worms, and the Human Body in Religion and Culture
Year of Publication: 2012
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2012. XXXVI, 217 pp., num. ill.
ISBN 978-1-4331-1547-9 hb. (Hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-4539-0263-9 (eBook)
Weight: 0.490 kg, 1.080 lbs
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The fear of parasites - with their power to invade, infest, and transform the self - writhes and wriggles through cultures and religions across the globe, reflecting a very human revulsion of being invaded and consumed by both internal and external forces. However, in ancient China, the parasitic wasp and the worm illuminate the relationship between the sage and his pupil. On the Indian sub-continent, Hindu cultures worship Nagas, entities who protect sources of drinking water from parasitic contamination, and the reciprocal relationship between parasite and host is a recurring theme in Vedic literature and ayurvedic texts. In medieval Europe, worms are symbols of both corruption through sin and redemption through Christ. In traditional African American culture, disease is attributed to infestation by supernatural spiders, bugs, and worms, while in the rainforests of southern Argentina, parasitologists fight against very real parasitic invaders. The worm represents our Jungian shadow, and we fear their bodies for they are our own - soft and vulnerable, powerfully destructive, mindlessly living off the corpses of others, and feeding on the corpse of the world.
This book gathers together scholarly research from diverse disciplines, including anthropology, the health sciences, history, literature, the medical humanities, parasitology, sociology, and religious studies.
Contents: Misha Tadd: The Power of Parasites and Worms - Lesley Jo Weaver/Amber R. Campbell Hibbs: Serpents and Sanitation: A Biocultural Survey of Snake Worship, Cultural Adaptation, and Parasitic Disease in Ancient and Modern India - Levanya Vemsani: Worms and the Corporal Body in India: An Examination of Hindu Literary Traditions - Mark G. Pitner: The Wasp and the Worm: Getting Inside the Body of the Sage - Brenda S. Gardenour: A Snake in a Basin and a Worm in the Flesh: External Serpents, Internal Worms, and Authority over the Body in the Legenda Aurea of Jacob de Voragine - Alison More: Reading the Wormy Corpus: Ambiguity and Discernment in the Lives of Medieval Saints - Marta Crivos, et al.: Some Considerations Regarding the Origin and Functions of Parasites among Two Mbya Communities in Misiones, Argentina - Charlotte Baker: Parasites and the Postcolonial: Williams Sassine's Saint Monsieur Baly - Amy M. Thomas: Worms Politic: Parasitism, Textual Decay and Conjure Truth in Gloria Naylor's Mama Day - Yvonne Chireau: Invasion as Affliction: Worms and Bodily Infestation in African American Hoodoo Practices - Todd LeVasseur: We Are What We Don't Eat: Worms, Bacteria, and the Soil Around Us - Julien R. Fielding: Inside/Out: The Body Under Attack in American Popular Culture.
About the author(s)/editor(s)
Brenda Gardenour holds a PhD in medieval history from Boston University and is currently Assistant Professor of History at the Saint Louis College of Pharmacy. She has been a Fulbright scholar in Madrid, an Evelyn Nation research fellow at the Huntington Library in California, and an NEH fellow at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine in London. Her current research examines the use and abuse of Aristotelian discourse in the medieval world and its continued influence on the deeper structures of modern mentalités, particularly those linked with the horror genre.
Misha Tadd is a PhD candidate at Boston University specializing in Early Daoism. He received a Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation Doctoral Fellowship for his work on Heshanggong zhu, a little-studied, but seminal, Daodejing commentary. Through this text, his dissertation explores the intersection of body, religion, and politics, and the ideal of harmony between the individual and society. Currently, he is an adjunct faculty member at Loyola Marymount University.