Home » Wombs and Alien Spirits: Women, Men, and the Zar Cult in Northern Sudan by Janice Boddy
Wombs and Alien Spirits: Women, Men, and the Zar Cult in Northern Sudan Janice Boddy

Wombs and Alien Spirits: Women, Men, and the Zar Cult in Northern Sudan

Janice Boddy

Published
ISBN : 9780299123130
Unknown Binding
425 pages
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 About the Book 

Based on nearly two years of ethnographic fieldwork in a Muslim village in northern Sudan, Wombs and Alien Spirits explores the zar cult, the most widely practiced traditional healing cult in Africa. Adherents of the cult are usually women withMoreBased on nearly two years of ethnographic fieldwork in a Muslim village in northern Sudan, Wombs and Alien Spirits explores the zar cult, the most widely practiced traditional healing cult in Africa. Adherents of the cult are usually women with marital or fertility problems, who are possessed by spirits very different from their own proscribed roles as mothers. Through the woman, the spirit makes demands upon her husband and family and makes provocative comments on village issues, such as the increasing influence of formal Islam or encroaching Western economic domination. In accommodating the spirits, the women are able metaphorically to reformulate everyday discourse to portray consciousness of their own subordination.Janice Boddy examines the moral universe of the village, discussing female circumcision, personhood, kinship, and bodily integrity, then describes the workings of the cult and the effect of possession on the lives of men as well as women. She suggests that spirit possession is a feminist discourse, though a veiled and allegorical one, on womens objectification and subordination. Additionally, the spirit world acts as a foil for village life in the context of rapid historical change and as such provides a focus for cultural resistance that is particularly, though not exclusively, relevant to women.