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Anxiety, Remembering, and Agency: Biocultural Insights for Understanding Sasaks' Responses to Illness



Abstract Jampi are potent, rotely memorized formulae that are central to medical practice among the Sasak of Indonesia. When someone is ill, people respond by seeking jampi. The more anxiety surrounds the illness, the more fervently jampi are sought. This article offers a biocultural analysis of jampi, tacking between (1) ethnographic descriptions of how jampi are transmitted, recalled, and used and (2) neuropsychological evidence regarding memory, anxiety, and agency. This biocultural approach highlights the central importance of anxiety for enabling the cultural reliance on jampi through its facilitation of memorization, recall, and social action. I conclude by suggesting that through examining the importance of anxiety ethnographically we may gain insight into the embodied experiences and social and healing practices surrounding illness. [memory, emotion, agency, anxiety, illness, Indonesia]