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Author Sharp, Lesley Alexandra.

Title The possessed and the dispossessed : spirits, identity, and power in a Madagascar migrant town / Lesley A. Sharp.

Imprint Berkeley : University of California Press, 1996, ©1993.

Item Status

Description 1 online resource (xix, 345 pages) : illustrations, maps.
Series Comparative studies of health systems and medical care ; no. 37
Comparative studies of health systems and medical care ; no. 37.
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (pages 311-337) and index.
Summary "This finely drawn portrait of a complex, polycultural community demonstrates that spirit possession reflects in microcosm many of the contradictions of daily life in a plantation economy. Female spirit mediums - a group heretofore assumed to be marginal - are in fact powerful and honored healers who assist their clients, the peasants and migrant laborers of Madagascar's Sambirano Valley. Lesley Sharp's wide-ranging analysis shows how spirit possession, identity, and power are intrinsically linked." "Possession by royal ancestral or tromba spirits is central to the concept of identity in Ambanja, the urban center of the Sambirano Valley. In this town there is an intense competition between insiders and outsiders. The insiders are primarily the indigenous Bemazava-Sakalava, the tera-tany or "children of the soil"; the outsiders are vahiny or "guests," labor migrants come to seek their fortunes. Yet these categories are fluid. Active participation in tromba possession confirms tera-tany status; thus migrant women who become mediums may transform their identities, becoming insiders. This action affects their daily survival, since tera-tany status confers access to arable land and local power structures." "Tromba possession also yields deeper meanings that emerge from the local knowledge of female mediums. These varied meanings are reflected in the performative aspects of healing ceremonies and are articulated through the gestures of the human body. As Sharp shows, healers' words and deeds reveal major sources of affliction, ranging from romance to urbanization and capitalist labor relations. Furthermore, spirit mediums are actively engaged in the reconstruction of indigenous history. Finally, the most powerful mediums draw on symbolic knowledge to influence the thrust of economic development in the Sambirano Valley."
"Sharp concludes this study with an analysis of how indigenous spirit mediums and Protestant exorcists treat extreme cases of possession and madness, revealing contradictions inherent in cross-cultural psychiatric praxis. More generally, the book challenges current views about possession and marginal status, particularly in reference to gender and age, insightful discussions of the lives of migrant adults and children as they seek relief. Some personal and social ills make Sharp's investigation relevant to gender studies, medical anthropology religion and ritual, and the politics of culture as well as African and Madagascar studies."--Jacket.
Contents 1. Introduction: Possession, Identity, and Power: Theoretical and Methodological Considerations -- Critical Approaches to the Study of Affliction -- Investigating Possession: Social Change, Marginality, and Religious Experience -- Logic and Methods of Inquiry -- pt. I. Historic, Political-Economic, and Social Levels of Experience -- 2. Political Economy of the Sambirano -- Ambanja, a Plantation Community -- Economic and Political History of the Region -- Local Power and Reactions to Colonialism -- 3. National and Local Factions: The Nature of Polyculturalism in Ambanja -- National Factions: Regionalism and Cultural Stereotypes -- Social and Cultural Divisions in Ambanja -- Effects of Polyculturalism -- 4. Tera-Tany and Vahiny: Insiders and Outsiders -- Migrant Stories -- Patterns of Association and Means for Incorporation -- pt. II. Spirit Possession in the Sambirano -- 5. World of the Spirits --^ Dynamics of Tromba in Daily Life -- Possession Experience -- Other Members of the Spirit World -- 6. Sacred Knowledge and Local Power: Tromba and the Sambirano Economy -- Tromba as Ethnohistory -- Tromba, Wage Labor, and Economic Independence -- Tromba and Collective Power in the Sambirano -- 7. Spirit Mediumship and Social Identity -- Selfhood and Personhood in the Context of Possession -- Turning Outsiders into Insiders: Mediums' Social Networks and Personal Relationships -- Miasa ny Tromba: Mediumship as Work -- pt. III. Conflicts of Town Life -- 8. Problems and Conflicts of Town Life: The Adult World -- Malagasy Concepts of Healing -- Sickness and Death -- Work and Success -- Love and Money, Wives and Mistresses -- 9. Social World of Children -- Possessed Youth of Ambanja -- Disorder of a Fragmented World -- Children and Social Change -- 10. Exorcising the Spirits: The Alternative Therapeutics of Protestantism -- Sakalava Perceptions of Possession and Madness.
Local Note eBooks on EBSCOhost EBSCO eBook Subscription Academic Collection - North America
Subject Sakalava (Malagasy people) -- Rites and ceremonies.
Sakalava (Malagasy people) -- Religion.
Sakalava (Malagasy people) -- Social conditions.
Spirit possession -- Madagascar -- Ambanja.
Ancestor worship -- Madagascar -- Ambanja.
Ambanja (Madagascar) -- Religious life and customs.
Genre/Form Electronic books.
Other Form: Print version: Sharp, Lesley Alexandra. Possessed and the dispossessed. Berkeley : University of California Press, ©1993 0520080017 (DLC) 92037296 (OCoLC)26856183
ISBN 9780520918450 (electronic bk.)
0520918452 (electronic bk.)
0585276803 (electronic bk.)
9780585276809 (electronic bk.)