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Periodical article Periodical article
Title:Reluctant Muslims: Embodied hegemony and moral resistance in a Giriama spirit possession complex
Author:McIntosh, J.
Year:2004
Periodical:The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Volume:10
Issue:1
Pages:91-112
Language:English
Geographic term:Kenya
Subject:spirit possession
Abstract:This account of a form of spirit possession widely experienced among Giriama people of coastal Kenya challenges prevailing theories of possession as resistance. Giriama are routinely possessed by Muslim spirits which hold their bodies hostage, afflicting them with illness and vomiting until they agree to abandon their customary practices and embrace Islam. Those possessed apparently somatize a hegemonic system of oppressive meanings according to which Giriama ethnicity is essentially different from, and polluting to, Islam. Yet the same individuals who embody hegemony in this way may reflect upon their possession experience by articulating a defiant ideology of resistance against both the possessing spirit and the Muslim ethnic groups that the spirit represents. These observations thus highlight the complexity of the relationship between hegemony and the individual; they also provide a reminder that the idiom of possession does not necessarily articulate with power structures in a predictable and straightforward fashion.[Abstract journal]
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