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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Of Spirit Possession and Structural Adjustment Programs: Government Downsizing, Education and Their Enchantments in Neo-Liberal Kenya
Author:Smith, James H.
Year:2001
Periodical:Journal of Religion in Africa
Volume:31
Issue:4
Pages:427-456
Language:English
Geographic term:Kenya
Subjects:spirit possession
economic policy
schoolgirls
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
Politics and Government
Education and Oral Traditions
Link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/1581468
Abstract:In 1997-1998, a wave of spirit possessions afflicted female schoolchildren in the Taita/Taveta District of Kenya's Coast Province. The author examines spirit possession by 'majini' ('genies' or spirit familiars) as reflecting and contributing to a socially constituted set of beliefs, dispositions, anxieties, and desires. He emphasizes that the concept of 'majini' is a broadly understood symbolic vehicle through which Wataita interpret and act upon the vicissitudes and strains of contemporary life. More specifically, the author argues that the spirit possessions in Taita, and the public interpretation of the forces which made them possible, were informed by changes taking place with respect to Taita's position in the Kenyan economy. He begins with a detailed exegetical description of 'majini', then relates 'majini' to an earlier form of spirit possession in Taita described by Grace Harris (1957), and ends by discussing certain major transformations then taking place in the Kenyan economy and society, reiterating their relation to the changing role of women in Taita society. In the end, he returns to the school possession case in more detail, in an effort to untangle the myriad issues at work in this single event. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum.
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