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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter March 14, 2017

The Dynamics of lennawa: Exchange, Sharing and Sensorial Techniques for Managing Life Substances in Ifugao

Jon Henrik Ziegler Remme

Abstract

For the Ifugao of Northern Luzon, the Philippines, life, health and well-being depend on the containment of the life force called lennawa within the body. The life sustaining lennawa-body relation is, however, inherently unstable. Hence, there is a need to engage in practices that sustain the lennawa-body relation. While, as also previous studies have shown, exchange and sharing are ways in which this is achieved, I argue that the containment of the life force within and its eventual release from the body depend on the sensorially enacted relations with other humans and spirits. I describe how the Ifugao use olfactory, auditory and tactile techniques to manage relations with other humans and spirits and how performing these sensorial techniques properly stabilizes the lennawa-body relation. When this relation is weakened, the Ifugao I worked with engaged in elaborate therapeutic rituals, the purpose of which was to retrieve the lennawa and ensure that it was rejoined with the body. The rituals took the form of exchange of lennawa between humans and spirits, and this exchange too was brought about by various multi-sensorial means. In sum, I discuss how Ifugao techniques of containing life must be understood within a framework that acknowledges the sensorial enactment of relations.

Acknowledgements

An initial version of this article was read at the panel “Notions of health and personhood in transition, and the containment of life” at the Southeast Asia Studies Symposium, Oxford, March 2014. I thank Elisabeth Hsu for organizing the panel and for her relentless efforts, encouragements and critique. I also thank the other participants in the panel, Isabell Hermanns, Junko Iida, Claudia Merli, and Marina Roseman as well as the two anonymous reviewers whose comments were very helpful. Research for this article was funded by the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Oslo.

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Published Online: 2017-3-14
Published in Print: 2017-3-1

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