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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Body in Bwiti: Variations on a Theme By Richard Werbner
Author:Fernandez, James W.
Year:1990
Periodical:Journal of Religion in Africa
Volume:20
Issue:1
Period:February
Pages:92-111
Language:English
Geographic term:Gabon
Subjects:African religions
religious rituals
Fang
Women's Issues
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Cultural Roles
Link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1581426.pdf
Abstract:Bwiti is a religious movement among the Fang of Gabon. In this paper the author returns to materials already presented in his 'Bwiti: an ethnography of the religious imagination in Africa' (Princeton, 1982). He does so in the light of the critique of aspects of the ethnographic argument of that book by Richard Werbner (In: Journal of Religion in Africa, vol. 20, fasc. 1 (1990), p. 63-91), which examines the Bwiti all-night vigil. The author uses Werbner's critique as an opportunity to reconsider and restate his older arguments in the light of the anthropology of the eighties, with its emphasis on embodied understanding. He discusses the following themes: disembodiment as theme and variation in Bwiti; the Bwiti Sign of the Cross as an 'exemplary pre-enactment of the whole vigil'; the flow of bodies: disembodiment as embodiment in the corporate body; structural logic, embodied understanding and the ethnographic task; and the developmental resonance of the body's experiences. The author concludes that Bwiti does not treat the body only as an indeterminate and undefined entity whose role is to be simply acted upon by its participation in the rituals. It also sees the body as a repository of sign-images accumulated in past experience and available for retrieval in appropriate body-state circumstances as plans for ritual performance taken in respect to the unacceptable conditions of those body-states. Bibliogr., notes, ref.
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