Where Humans and Spirits Meet: The Politics of Rituals and Identified Spirits in Zanzibar (Social Identities 5)

Where Humans and Spirits Meet: The Politics of Rituals and Identified Spirits in Zanzibar (Social Identities 5)

By: Kjersti Larsen (author)Hardback

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Zanzibar, an island off the East African coast, with its Muslim and Swahili population, offers rich material for this study of identity, religion, and multiculturalism. This book focuses on the phenomenon of spirit possession in Zanzibar Town and the relationships created between humans and spirits; it provides a way to apprehend how society is constituted and conceived and, thus, discusses Zanzibari understandings of what it means to be human.

About Author

Kjersti Larsen is Associate Professor of Social Anthropology and African Studies at the Department of Ethnography, Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo. She has carried out fieldwork in Zanzibar since 1984 and since 1997 has also conducted fieldwork in Northern Sudan.


Map of the Western Indian Ocean Preface and Acknowledgements Chapter 1. Introduction Considering perspectives on spirit possession The fieldwork: people, engagement and context The fieldwork: ritual participation Performance, meaning and reflexivity Ritual, communication and enactment Knowledge, experience and forms of negotiation The book Chapter 2. Introduction to Zanzibar: the place, its politics and organization A view of the past and the present Identity, social privileges and political reorganization A plural society Gender, distinctions and effects in everyday and ritual life Gender, ritual participation and knowledge Chapter 3. Spirits, possession and personhood The position of spirits Spirits are beings with a worldly existence Spirit possession and practices Personhood, notions of strength and self-control Experiencing spirits Chapter 4. Makabila, people and spirits Articulation of differences and the problem of identity Identification of a spirit The demands of spirits belonging to different makabila The world of spirits and human beings Chapter 5. Human concerns, spirits and recreation of relationships How the spirits reveal their presence in the human world Communication between humans and spirits The ritual group and the ritual framework Ngoma ya sheitani: a celebration and a cure Chapter 6. Between self and other: body and mind Ngoma ya ruhani States of body and states of mind A bodily experience of spirits Losing oneself to the spirit Altered states of body, altered states of mind Chapter 7. Gender: relations, markers and sexuality Gender and complementarity Concealment and disclosure Acts of disclosure and moral ambiguity Enactment and perceptions of the body Strict categories in a flexible universe Gender images and human practices Chapter 8. Women, men and gendered spirits A ngoma ya kibuki ritual Matters of affection, pride and self-control Presentation, representation and excess Comedy, parody and the ways of humans and spirits Body, aesthetics, and gender images On reflections and acts of transgression Chapter 9. Conclusion: social identities and dramatization of the other An aesthetic moving together Improvisation, play and the dramatization of a life-world Reflections on embodiment and modes of knowing Glossary Bibliography Index

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9781845450557
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 184
  • ID: 9781845450557
  • weight: 381
  • ISBN10: 1845450558

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