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Fusion of the Worlds

An Ethnography of Possession among the Songhay of Niger

Fusion of the Worlds

An Ethnography of Possession among the Songhay of Niger

"This ethnography is more like a film than a book, so well does Stoller evoke the color, sight, sounds, and movements of Songhay possession ceremonies."—Choice

"Stoller brilliantly recreates the reality of spirit presence; hosts are what they mediate, and spirits become flesh and blood in the ’fusion’ with human existence. . . . An excellent demonstration of the benefits of a new genre of ethnographic writing. It expands our understanding of the harsh world of Songhay mediums and sorcerers."—Bruce Kapferer, American Ethnologist

"A vivid story that will appeal to a wide audience. . . . The voices of individual Songhay are evident and forceful throughout the story. . . . Like a painter, [Stoller] is concerned with the rich surface of things, with depicting images, evoking sensations, and enriching perceptions. . . . He has succeeded admirably." —Michael Lambek, American Anthropologist

"Events (ceremonies and life histories) are evoked in cinematic style. . . . [This book is] approachable and absorbing—it is well written, uncluttered by jargon and elegantly structured."—Richard Fardon, Times Higher Education Supplement

"Compelling, insightful, rich in ethnographic detail, and worthy of becoming a classic in the scholarship on Africa."—Aidan Southall, African Studies Review

268 pages | 37 halftones, 3 maps, 1 line drawing, frontispiece | 6 x 9 | © 1989

African Studies

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Table of Contents

Prologue
Acknowledgments
Personae
1. Looking for Serci
Part One: Organization of the Possession Troupe
2. Zimas from Tillaberi
3. Gusabu’s Mediums
4. Praise-Singers from the River
5. Cries of the Violin, Rhythms of the Drum
Part Two: Theaters of Songhay Experience
6. Rain Dance: Rites of the Ancestors
7. Horrific Comedy: The Hauka
Part Three: Possession in a Changing World
8. Sexual Comedy: The Sasale
9. Two Mouths, Two Hearts
Epilogue: Fusion of the Worlds
Notes
Glossary
References
Index

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