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9780299123147

Wombs and Alien Spirits Women, Men, and the Zar Cult in Northern Sudan

Wombs and Alien Spirits Women, Men, and the Zar Cult in Northern Sudan
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  • ISBN-13: 9780299123147
  • ISBN: 0299123146
  • Publication Date: 1989
  • Publisher: Univ of Wisconsin Pr

AUTHOR

Boddy, Janice

SUMMARY

Based on nearly two years of ethnographic fieldwork in a Muslim village in northern Sudan, Wombs and Alien Spiritsexplores the z'r cult, the most widely practiced traditional healing cult in Africa. Adherents of the cult are usually women with marital or fertility problems, who are possessed by spirits very different from their own proscribed roles as mothers. Through the woman, the spirit makes demands upon her husband and family and makes provocative comments on village issues, such as the increasing influence of formal Islam or encroaching Western economic domination. In accommodating the spirits, the women are able metaphorically to reformulate everyday discourse to portray consciousness of their own subordination. Janice Boddy examines the moral universe of the village, discussing female circumcision, personhood, kinship, and bodily integrity, then describes the workings of the cult and the effect of possession on the lives of men as well as women. She suggests that spirit possession is a feminist discourse, though a veiled and allegorical one, on women's objectification and subordination. Additionally, the spirit world acts as a foil for village life in the context of rapid historical change and as such provides a focus for cultural resistance that is particularly, though not exclusively, relevant to women.Boddy, Janice is the author of 'Wombs and Alien Spirits Women, Men, and the Zar Cult in Northern Sudan', published 1989 under ISBN 9780299123147 and ISBN 0299123146.

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