Spirited Things: The Work Of Possession In Afro-atlantic Religions

Hardcover | May 7, 2014

EditorPaul Christopher Johnson

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The word “possession” 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 things—via slavery—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 shaped—and continue to shape—the cultures that practice them. Exploring the way spirit possessions were framed both by material things—including plantations, the Catholic church, the sea, and the phonograph—as well as by the legacy of slavery, they offer a powerful new way of understanding the Atlantic world. 

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The word “possession” 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 things—via slavery—and ritual events by which the thingification...

Paul Christopher Johnson is professor of history and Afroamerican and African studies and director of the Doctoral Program in Anthropology and History at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is the author of Secrets, Gossip, and Gods: The Transformation of Brazilian Candomblé  and Diaspora Conversions: Black Carib Religion and the...

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Spirited Things: The Work of "Possession" in Afro-Atlantic Religions
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Format:HardcoverDimensions:344 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:May 7, 2014Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022612262X

ISBN - 13:9780226122625

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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 “Spirit Possession”

STEPHAN PALMIÉ
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 / “Who’s Dat Knocking at the Door?” 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
 

Editorial Reviews

“Trading geographical sweep for ethnographic and theoretical depth, this volume engages the relationship between spirit possession and materiality, helping to locate the place of possession in the genealogy of modernity—an innovative, stimulating take on Black Atlantic religions.”