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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:An American sorcerer in colonial Gabon: politics and the occult in Richard Lynch Garner's Gabonese narratives, 1905-1908
Author:Rich, JeremyISNI
Year:2008
Periodical:African Historical Review
Volume:40
Issue:2
Pages:62-83
Language:English
Geographic term:Gabon
Subjects:culture contact
interpersonal relations
magic
Nkomi
colonial history
About person:Richard Lynch Garner (1848-1920)ISNI
Link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/17532520902793270
Abstract:The eccentric American zoologist Richard Lynch Garner (1848-1920) spent almost two decades living with Nkomi people in southern Gabon between 1893 and 1918. His essays often discussed the connections between occult beliefs and political change during the chaotic era of concessionary companies in the colony. This period is often seen by historians as a violent period that destroyed precolonial political institutions in equatorial Africa. However, Garner described how he engaged with local occult beliefs in ways that reveal the continued use of landlord/stranger relationships in the colony. While Garner employed chemicals and phonographs as a means of gaining authority over his African hosts, Gabonese people sought to incorporate Garner into their communities through healing rituals and boycotts backed by supernatural threats. Although the American constructed Gabonese people as gullible and backward, a close reading of his writings demonstrates how southern Gabonese communities placed Garner and his technology in a long tradition that tied together European wealth, supernatural forces, and rights of local people over foreigners. The nineteenth-century Nkomi kingdom might have crumbled, but links between occult forces and political power survived and adapted to the new realities of the early colonial era. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]
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