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Holy water. The universal and the particular

  • Terje Oestigaard


Veronica Strang's ‘Fluid consistences. Material relationality in human engagements with water’ is a highly welcome theoretical discussion regarding the role of water in society and social theories. As a discussion article, Strang's piece opens up a number of fields of enquiry where water empirically and theoretically challenges current theories, but given the limitations of an article there are still other spheres where water may contest dominant theories, and I will briefly address some of these aspects with an emphasis on holy water.


Corresponding author

*Terje Oestigaard, the Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala. Email:


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Châtel, F., 2014: Baptism in the Jordan River. Immersing in a contested transboundary watercourse, WIREs Water 1 (2), 219–27.
Durkheim, E., 1966 (1895): The rules of sociological method, New York.
Latour, B., 1999: Pandora's hope. Essays on the reality of science studies, Cambridge, MA.
Oestigaard, T., 2005: Death and life-giving waters. Cremation, caste, and cosmogony in Karmic traditions, Oxford.
Oestigaard, T., 2013: Water, Christianity and the rise of capitalism, London and New York.
Oxtoby, W.G., 1987: Holy, Idea of the, in Eliade, M. (ed.), The encyclopaedia of religion, Vol. 6, New York, 431–38.
Parry, J., 1994: Death in Banaras, Cambridge.
Snow, C.P., 1966: The two cultures, Cambridge.
Tvedt, T., 2010: ‘Water systems’, environmental history and the deconstruction of nature, Environment and history 16, 143–66.
Tvedt, T. and Oestigaard, T., 2010: A history of the ideas of water. Deconstructing nature and constructing society, in Tvedt, T. and Oestigaard, T. (eds), A history of water, Series 2, Vol. 1, The ideas of water from antiquity to modern times, London and New York, 136.

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Holy water. The universal and the particular

  • Terje Oestigaard


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