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Spirits in Politics

Uncertainties of Power and Healing in African Societies

Spirits in Politics explores the interface between religion and politics in African societies by examining recent and ongoing research in a variety of regional settings. Case studies from across the African continent exemplify how—and at which social levels—spirits, witchcraft, and other supernatural agents play an active role in political action and the conceptualization of power. This volume illustrates not only how ritual techniques such as divination or spirit possession may play a vital role in people’s efforts to regain control over the political processes that determine their lives, but also how magical and other secret practices are at the center of local discourse on democratization and state politics. Moreover, the contributors show that these practices are prominent in day-to-day decision-making processes at local levels, including the interaction between spirit-based and democratic institutions of social organization in modern urban life and economies.

265 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Political Science: Political Behavior and Public Opinion

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“There are some strong showings that can benefit scholars of religion, particularly those interested in bridging empirical approaches with theory. The editors’ introduction contains valuable insights into the problems facing the would-be researcher of African spirits. . . . The case studies can yield some surprises.”

Nova Religio

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