The dead are seen as important, active members in many indigenous communities; on some views, attending to relationships with dead relatives is a distinctive mark of indigenous religious practice. The papers in this panel considered both indigenous understandings of death and the dead and indigenous celebrations of the dead in three rather distinct settings: the vėlės (spirits of the dead) in the ancient Baltic region, Día de los Muertos celebrations in Mexico and among Mexicans elsewhere, and the Día de los Muertos in the context of an ethnographic museum (the Peabody Museum, Harvard). The papers examined indigenous ontologies, the psycho-spiritual consequences of ritual behavior, and the problematic and changing dynamics of ethnographic representation, especially in a context in which the people represented are themselves having greater presence and voice. Eglute Trinkauskaite (Humanistic Studies) presented on "The Ecology of the Living Dead in Ancient Baltic Worldview.” Yuria Celidwen (Pacifica Graduate Institute) presented on "Día de Muertos: Ethics of Belonging and Rituals of Love” and Natalie Solis (Harvard) on “Día de los Muertos in Boston: Indigenous Religious Celebrations at Harvard’s Peabody Museum.” Seth Schermerhorn (Hamilton College) responded to the presentations.
Science and religion panel explored different and alternate ways various cultures have construed the acquisition of knowledge and its relationship to the created order--different and alternative to the familiar paradigms we have inherited from the binary of the Enlightenment Science and Religion. This particular session will be devoted to discussion of issues related to the theoretical and practical implications of a scientific worldview on the forms and structures of society. Eglute Trinkauskaite (Humanistic Studies) presented on "The Magic and Science of Lithuanian Healing Charms” along with Elana Jefferson-Tatum (Tufts University), Philip P. Arnold (Syracuse University), Thomas Csordas (University of California, San Diego), and David Carrasco (Harvard University).