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Spirited Things: The Work of "Possession" in Afro-Atlantic Religions

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Spirited Things: The Work of "Possession" in Afro-Atlantic Religions Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The word “possession” is trickier than we often think, especially in the context of the Black Atlantic and its religions and economy. Here possession can refer to spirits, material goods, and, indeed, people. In Spirited Things, Paul Christopher Johnson gathers together essays by leading anthropologists in the Americas to explore the fascinating nexus found at the heart of the idea of being possessed. The result is a book that marries one of anthropologys foundational concerns—spirit possession—with one of its most salient contemporary ones: materiality.

             

The contributors reopen the concept of possession in order to examine the relationship between African religions in the Atlantic and the economies that have historically shaped—and continue to shape—the cultures that practice them. They explore the way spirit mediation is framed both by material things—including plantations, the Catholic church, the sea, and the telegraph—as well as the legacy of slavery. In doing so, they offer a powerful new concept for understanding the Atlantic world and its history, creation, and deeply complex religious and political economy.

 

Synopsis:

This groundbreaking collection of essays by a group of cutting-edge scholars of religions of the Black Atlantic explores both the genealogy of spirit possession and the theories of political economy and governance from which it emerged, and the empirical production of spirit possession practices. Johnsonand#8217;s introductory chapter, which traces the rise of the idea of possession in the commercial and political encounters between Europeans and Africans, is followed by eight ethnographic chapters on Cuba, Haiti, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and North America. These chapters explore the ritual production of mediated spirits in a context framed not only by specific thingsand#151; for example, the plantation, the Catholic church, the sea, 19th century theater, gemstone mining, land called heritaj, the telegraph, the phonograph, the languages of European masters, the Pentecostal church, the senses of the human body, and so onand#151;but also by the context of slavery, which transformed persons into things.

Synopsis:

The word and#147;possessionand#8221; is anything but transparent, especially as it developed in the context of the African Americas. There it referred variously to spirits, material goods, and people. It served as a watershed term marking both transactions in which people were made into thingsand#151;via slaveryand#151;and ritual events by which the thingification of people was revised. In Spirited Things, Paul Christopher Johnson gathers together essays by leading anthropologists in the Americas that reopen the concept of possession on these two fronts in order to examine the relationship between African religions in the Atlantic and the economies that have historically shapedand#151;and continue to shapeand#151;the cultures that practice them. Exploring the way spirit possessions were framed both by material thingsand#151;including plantations, the Catholic church, the sea, and the phonographand#151;as well as by the legacy of slavery, they offer a powerful new way of understanding the Atlantic world.and#160;

About the Author

Paul Christopher Johnson

Table of Contents

PAUL CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON

INTRODUCTION / Spirits and Things in the Making of the Afro-Atlantic World

PAUL CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON

ONE / Toward an Atlantic Genealogy of and#147;Spirit Possessionand#8221;

STEPHAN PALMIand#201;

TWO / The Ejamba of North Fairmount Avenue, the Wizard of Menlo Park, and the Dialectics of Ensoniment: An Episode in the History of an Acoustic Mask

PATRICK A. POLK

THREE / and#147;Whoand#8217;s Dat Knocking at the Door?and#8221; A Tragicomic Ethiopian Spirit Delineation in Three Parts

KRISTINA WIRTZ

FOUR / Spiritual Agency, Materiality, and Knowledge in Cuba

BRIAN BRAZEAL

FIVE / The Fetish and the Stone: A Moral Economy of Charlatans and Thieves

STEPHEN SELKA

SIX / Demons and Money: Possessions in Brazilian Pentecostalism

ELIZABETH McALISTER

SEVEN / Possessing the Land for Jesus

KAREN RICHMAN

EIGHT / Possession and Attachment: Notes on Moral Ritual Communication among Haitian Descent Groups

RAQUEL ROMBERG

NINE / Mimetic Corporeality, Discourse, and Indeterminacy in Spirit Possession

MICHAEL LAMBEK

TEN / Afterword: Recognizing and Misrecognizing Spirit Possession

Notes

Bibliography

Contributors

Index

and#160;

Product Details

ISBN:
9780226122762
Author:
Johnson, Paul Christopher
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Subject:
Anthropology - Cultural
Subject:
anthropology;cultural anthropology
Edition Description:
Paperback
Publication Date:
20140531
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
11 halftones
Pages:
344
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology
Metaphysics » Magic Witchcraft and Paganism
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Religion » Western Religions » Social and Political Issues

Spirited Things: The Work of "Possession" in Afro-Atlantic Religions New Trade Paper
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$41.50 In Stock
Product details 344 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226122762 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
This groundbreaking collection of essays by a group of cutting-edge scholars of religions of the Black Atlantic explores both the genealogy of spirit possession and the theories of political economy and governance from which it emerged, and the empirical production of spirit possession practices. Johnsonand#8217;s introductory chapter, which traces the rise of the idea of possession in the commercial and political encounters between Europeans and Africans, is followed by eight ethnographic chapters on Cuba, Haiti, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and North America. These chapters explore the ritual production of mediated spirits in a context framed not only by specific thingsand#151; for example, the plantation, the Catholic church, the sea, 19th century theater, gemstone mining, land called heritaj, the telegraph, the phonograph, the languages of European masters, the Pentecostal church, the senses of the human body, and so onand#151;but also by the context of slavery, which transformed persons into things.
"Synopsis" by ,
The word and#147;possessionand#8221; is anything but transparent, especially as it developed in the context of the African Americas. There it referred variously to spirits, material goods, and people. It served as a watershed term marking both transactions in which people were made into thingsand#151;via slaveryand#151;and ritual events by which the thingification of people was revised. In Spirited Things, Paul Christopher Johnson gathers together essays by leading anthropologists in the Americas that reopen the concept of possession on these two fronts in order to examine the relationship between African religions in the Atlantic and the economies that have historically shapedand#151;and continue to shapeand#151;the cultures that practice them. Exploring the way spirit possessions were framed both by material thingsand#151;including plantations, the Catholic church, the sea, and the phonographand#151;as well as by the legacy of slavery, they offer a powerful new way of understanding the Atlantic world.and#160;

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