Spirit possession

Textbook (chapter)


Igreja, Victor. 2018. "Spirit possession." Callan, Hilary (ed.) The international encyclopedia of anthropology. Oxford, United Kingdom. John Wiley & Sons.
Chapter Title

Spirit possession

Book Chapter CategoryTextbook (chapter)
ERA Publisher ID2349
Book TitleThe international encyclopedia of anthropology
Authors
AuthorIgreja, Victor
EditorsCallan, Hilary
Number of Pages9
Year2018
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
Place of PublicationOxford, United Kingdom
ISBN9780470657225
9781118924396
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118924396.wbiea1578
Web Address (URL)https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9781118924396.wbiea1578
Abstract

In many societies around the world, spirit possession is a multifaceted phenomenon. It causes ill-health and suffering, is a source of knowledge regardingways of tackling social and health problems, and constitutes modes of collective remembering. In the expert literature, spirit possession is diversely referred to as altered states of consciousness, or dissociation or dissociative states. According to specific social circumstances, spirit possession is experienced as constructive in that it can provide healing resources; it is destructive in that it can cause serious health and social afflictions; and it can also be uncertain by encapsulating positive and negative experiences at once and over time. In the 1960s and 1970s sociological approaches reduced spirit possession to symbolic forms of power struggles. It was argued that disadvantaged groups, particularly women, attempted to redress their precarious condition by means of spirit possession (Lewis 1971). Anthropologists have spent lengthy periods of time conducting ethnographic studies of spirit possession in numerous societies and have suggested that the diversity of the phenomenon makes it difficult to capture in a single approach and definition.

Thus, anthropologists and other social scientists tend to use definitions that are consistent with the type of spirit possession that is prevalent in a particular society at a specific point in time, whereas others have applied multidisciplinary approaches in search of complex understandings.There are, however, points of departure that any student, expert, or media professional must consider when engaging with the topic. Spirit possession is an embodied phenomenon which nevertheless transcends the individual and becomes part of group dynamics (Stoller 1995). It flourishes in societies that cultivate the belief that an individual’s body and action can be influenced and controlled by deities and spirits. Spirit possession manifests in ritual practice and in everyday life. In these contexts and for the people involved, spirits are real and are regarded as persons (Lambek 1981). Spirits are inseparable fromparticular social attitudes to death and particular historical circumstances of death (Kwon 2008). Research conducted in numerous societies consistently confirms that both men and women are afflicted by spirits; however, women are the principal focal point of possession trance. Because of gaps in reporting the identity of the spirits, the literature offers a less clear picture regarding the gender of the spirits. Recent case studies conducted in specific war-torn communities show, however, that afflicting spirits tend to be male (Igreja et al. 2010). In social theory, spirit possession has continuously animated debates and analysis regarding the potential and limits of human intentionality (also referred to as 'human agency').

Keywordsepidemiology; ethnography; health and social afflictions; medical anthropology; religion; religious practices; social epidemiology; spirit possession
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020440107. Social and cultural anthropology
430399. Historical studies not elsewhere classified
489999. Other law and legal studies not elsewhere classified
500402. Comparative religious studies
Public Notes

Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.

Byline AffiliationsSchool of Arts and Communication
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Permalink -

https://research.usq.edu.au/item/q4y29/spirit-possession

  • 259
    total views
  • 14
    total downloads
  • 2
    views this month
  • 0
    downloads this month

Export as

Related outputs

Medicine and Kingship: Endogenous Centralization in East and Central Africa by Koen Stroeken
Igreja, Victor. 2023. "Medicine and Kingship: Endogenous Centralization in East and Central Africa by Koen Stroeken ." Current Anthropology. 64 (3), pp. 231-232. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1086/725199
The politics of accountability
Igreja, Victor. 2023. "The politics of accountability." Mälksoo, M. (ed.) Handbook on the Politics of Memory. United Kingdom. Edward Elgar Publishing. pp. 176-190
Frames and Intersections of Studies of Place, Confict and Communication
Igreja, Victor. 2019. "Frames and Intersections of Studies of Place, Confict and Communication." Collins, Pauline, Igreja, Victor and Danaher, Patrick Alan (ed.) The Nexus among Place, Conflict and Communication in a Globalising World. Singapore. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 1-16
Mozambique: religious practices and post-conflict processes
Igreja, Victor. 2022. "Mozambique: religious practices and post-conflict processes." Brown, Sara E. and Smith, Stephen D. (ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Religion, Mass Atrocity, and Genocide. Abingdon, United Kingdom. Routledge. pp. 331-342
Negotiating truth-seeking, ritual television, and healing in Mozambique
Igreja, Victor. 2022. "Negotiating truth-seeking, ritual television, and healing in Mozambique." Lotter, Maria-Sibylla and Fischer, Saskia (ed.) Guilt, Forgiveness, and Moral Repair: A Cross-Cultural Comparison. Switzerland. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 307-328
Relationships in Transition: Negotiating Accountability and Productive Guilt in Timor Leste
Igreja, Victor. 2022. "Relationships in Transition: Negotiating Accountability and Productive Guilt in Timor Leste." von Kellenbach, Katharina and Buschmeier, Matthias (ed.) Guilt: A Force of Cultural Transformation. New York, United States. Oxford University Press. pp. 285-304
Negotiating the Legacies of Intragroup Violence in Timor Leste
Igreja, Victor. 2021. "Negotiating the Legacies of Intragroup Violence in Timor Leste." International Journal of Transitional Justice. 15 (2), pp. 309-331. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijtj/ijab007
Legacies of civil wars: a 14‐year study of social conflicts and well‐being outcomes in farming economies
Igreja, Victor, Colaizzi, Janna and Brekelmans, Alana. 2020. "Legacies of civil wars: a 14‐year study of social conflicts and well‐being outcomes in farming economies." British Journal of Sociology. 72. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-4446.12802
'What Made the Elephant Rise Up from the Shade?': Relationships in Transition and Negotiating Silence in Mozambique
Igreja, Victor. 2019. "'What Made the Elephant Rise Up from the Shade?': Relationships in Transition and Negotiating Silence in Mozambique." Russell, Aidan (ed.) Truth, Silence and Violence in Emerging States: Histories of the Unspoken. Abingdon, United Kingdom. Routledge. pp. 88-110
Social Trauma and Recovery: Emergent Themes
Igreja, Victor and Baines, Erin. 2019. "Social Trauma and Recovery: Emergent Themes." Grinker, Roy Richard, Lubkemann, Stephen C., Steiner, Christopher B. and Goncalves, Euclides (ed.) A Companion to the Anthropology of Africa. Hoboken, United States. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 251-270
Negotiating relationships in transition: war, famine, and embodied accountability in Mozambique
Igreja, Victor. 2019. "Negotiating relationships in transition: war, famine, and embodied accountability in Mozambique." Comparative Studies in Society and History: an international quarterly. 61 (4), pp. 774-804. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0010417519000264
Negotiating temporalities of accountability in communities in conflict in Africa
Igreja, Victor. 2018. "Negotiating temporalities of accountability in communities in conflict in Africa." Mueller-Hirth, Natascha and Oyola, Sandra Rios (ed.) Time and temporality in transitional and post-conflict societies. United Kingdom. Routledge. pp. 84-101
Silence and visual representations of anti-violence campaigns in cosmopolitan Brisbane
Igreja, Victor. 2018. "Silence and visual representations of anti-violence campaigns in cosmopolitan Brisbane." Anthropology in Action. 25 (1), pp. 15-28. https://doi.org/10.3167/aia.2018.250103
Post-hybridity bargaining and embodied accountability in communities in conflict, Mozambique
Igreja, Victor. 2018. "Post-hybridity bargaining and embodied accountability in communities in conflict, Mozambique." Wallis, Joanne, Kent, Lia, Forsyth, Miranda, Dinnen, Sinclair and Bose, Srinjoy (ed.) Hybridity on the ground in peacebuilding and development: critical conversations. Canberra, Australia. Australian National University (ANU) Press. pp. 163-179
The epidemiology of spirit possession in the aftermath of mass political violence in Mozambique
Igreja, Victor, Dias-Lambranca, Beatrice, Hershey, Douglas A., Racin, Limore, Richters, Annemiek and Reis, Ria. 2010. "The epidemiology of spirit possession in the aftermath of mass political violence in Mozambique." Social Science and Medicine. 71 (3), pp. 592 -599. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.04.024
Why are there so many drums playing until dawn? Exploring the role of gamba spirits and healers in the postwar recovery period in central Mozambique
Igreja, Victor. 2003. "Why are there so many drums playing until dawn? Exploring the role of gamba spirits and healers in the postwar recovery period in central Mozambique." Transcultural Psychiatry. 40 (4), pp. 459-487. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363461503404001
The effects of traumatic experiences on the infant-mother relationship in the former war-zones of central Mozambique: the case of Madzawde in Gorongosa
Igreja, Victor. 2003. "The effects of traumatic experiences on the infant-mother relationship in the former war-zones of central Mozambique: the case of Madzawde in Gorongosa." Infant Mental Health Journal. 24 (5), pp. 469-494. https://doi.org/10.1002/imhj.10068
The social world of dreams and nightmares in a post-conflict setting: The case of Gorongosa in Central Mozambique
Igreja, Victor and Dias-Lambranca, Beatrice. 2006. "The social world of dreams and nightmares in a post-conflict setting: The case of Gorongosa in Central Mozambique." Intervention. 4 (4), pp. 145-157. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.WTF.0000237882.59061.55
Multiple temporalities in indigenous justice and healing practices in Mozambique
Igreja, Victor. 2012. "Multiple temporalities in indigenous justice and healing practices in Mozambique." International Journal of Transitional Justice. 6 (3), pp. 404-422. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijtj/ijs017
Amnesty law, political struggles for legitimacy and violence in Mozambique
Igreja, Victor. 2015. "Amnesty law, political struggles for legitimacy and violence in Mozambique." International Journal of Transitional Justice. 9 (2), pp. 239-258. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijtj/ijv004
Politics of memory, decentralization and recentralization in Mozambique
Igreja, Victor. 2013. "Politics of memory, decentralization and recentralization in Mozambique." Journal of Southern African Studies. 39 (2), pp. 313-335. https://doi.org/10.1080/03057070.2013.795809
Testimony method to ameliorate post-traumatic stress symptoms: Community-based intervention study with Mozambican civil war survivors
Igreja, Victor, Kleijn, Wim C., Schreuder, Bas J. N., Van Dijk, Janie A. and Verschuur, Margot. 2004. "Testimony method to ameliorate post-traumatic stress symptoms: Community-based intervention study with Mozambican civil war survivors." British Journal of Psychiatry. 184 (3), pp. 251-257. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.184.3.251
Mozambique
Igreja, Victor. 2013. "Mozambique." Nedelsky, Nadya and Stan, Lavinia (ed.) Encyclopedia of Transitional Justice. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 305-311
Power and healing in African Politics: an introduction
Meier, Barbara, Igreja, Victor and Steinforth, Arne S.. 2013. "Power and healing in African Politics: an introduction." Meier, Barbara and Steinforth, Arne S. (ed.) Spirits in politics: uncertainties of power and healing in African societies. Frankfurt, Germany. University of Chicago Press. pp. 15-36
The politics of spirits, justice, and social transformation in Mozambique
Igreja, Victor and Racin, Limore. 2013. "The politics of spirits, justice, and social transformation in Mozambique." Meier, Barbara and Steinforth, Arne S. (ed.) Spirits in politics: Uncertainties of power and healing in African societies. Frankfurt, Germany. University of Chicago Press. pp. 181-204
‘A conflict does not rot’: State and civil society responses to civil war offences in Mozambique
Igreja, Victor and Skaar, Elin. 2013. "‘A conflict does not rot’: State and civil society responses to civil war offences in Mozambique." Nordic Journal of Human Rights. 31 (2 (Special edition)), pp. 149-175.
The implications of accumulated grievances and memories of political violence to the process of administrative decentralization in Mozambique
Igreja, Victor. 2013. "The implications of accumulated grievances and memories of political violence to the process of administrative decentralization in Mozambique." Review of Political Studies. 6 (1), pp. 181-199.
Legacies of war, healing, justice and social transformation in Mozambique
Igreja, Victor. 2015. "Legacies of war, healing, justice and social transformation in Mozambique." Hamber, B. and Gallagher, E. (ed.) Psychosocial perspectives on peacebuilding. New York, United States. Springer. pp. 223-250
Testimony ceremonies in Asia: integrating spirituality in testimonial therapy for torture survivors in India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and the Philippines
Agger, Inger, Igreja, Victor, Kiehle, Rachel and Polatin, Peter. 2012. "Testimony ceremonies in Asia: integrating spirituality in testimonial therapy for torture survivors in India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and the Philippines." Transcultural Psychiatry. 49 (3-4), pp. 568-589. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363461512447138
Memories of violence, cultural transformations of cannibals and indigenous state-building in post-conflict Mozambique
Igreja, Victor. 2014. "Memories of violence, cultural transformations of cannibals and indigenous state-building in post-conflict Mozambique." Comparative Studies in Society and History: an international quarterly. 56 (3), pp. 774-802. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0010417514000322
Os recursos da violência e as lutas pelo poder politico Moçambique [Resources of violence and the struggles for political power in Mozambique]
Igreja, Victor. 2015. "Os recursos da violência e as lutas pelo poder politico Moçambique [Resources of violence and the struggles for political power in Mozambique]." Brito, Luis de, Castel-Branco, Carlos Nuno, Chichava, Sergio, Forquilha, Salvador and Francisco, Antonio (ed.) Desafios para Moçambique 2015. Mozambique. Institute of Social and Economic Studies (IESE). pp. 31-57
Media and legacies of war: responses to global film violence in conflict zones
Igreja, Victor M. F.. 2015. "Media and legacies of war: responses to global film violence in conflict zones." Current Anthropology. 56 (5), pp. 678-700. https://doi.org/10.1086/683107
Intersections of sensorial perception and imagination in divination practices in postwar mozambique
Igreja, Victor. 2015. "Intersections of sensorial perception and imagination in divination practices in postwar mozambique." Anthropological Quarterly. 88 (3), pp. 693-723. https://doi.org/10.1353/anq.2015.0042
“A Conflict Does Not Rot”: State and Civil Society Responses to Civil War Offences in Mozambique
Igreja, Victor and Skaar, Elin. 2013. "“A Conflict Does Not Rot”: State and Civil Society Responses to Civil War Offences in Mozambique ." Nordic Journal of Human Rights. 31 (2), pp. 149-175. https://doi.org/10.18261/ISSN1891-814X-2013-02-04
Testimonies of suffering and recasting the meanings of memories of violence in post-war Mozambique
Igreja, Victor. 2010. "Testimonies of suffering and recasting the meanings of memories of violence in post-war Mozambique." Lidwien, Kapteijns and Richters, Annemiek (ed.) Mediations of Violence in Africa: Fashioning new futures from contested pasts. United States. Brill. pp. 141-172
Frelimo’s political ruling through violence and memory in postcolonial Mozambique
Igreja, Victor. 2010. "Frelimo’s political ruling through violence and memory in postcolonial Mozambique." Journal of Southern African Studies. 36 (4), pp. 781-799. https://doi.org/10.1080/03057070.2010.527636
Traditional courts and the struggle against state impunity for civil wartime offences in Mozambique
Igreja, Victor. 2010. "Traditional courts and the struggle against state impunity for civil wartime offences in Mozambique." Journal of African Law. 54 (1), pp. 51-73. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0021855309990167
Justice and reconciliation in the aftermath of the civil war in Gorongosa, Mozambique Central
Igreja Victor. 2009. "Justice and reconciliation in the aftermath of the civil war in Gorongosa, Mozambique Central." Ambos, Kai, Large, Judith and Wierda, Marieke (ed.) Building a Future on Peace and Justice: Studies on Transitional Justice, Peace and Development The Nuremberg Declaration on Peace and Justice. Germany. Springer. pp. 423-437
The Thursdays as they live: Christian religious transformation and gender relations in postwar Mozambique
Igreja, Victor and Dias-Lambranca, Beatrice. 2009. "The Thursdays as they live: Christian religious transformation and gender relations in postwar Mozambique." Journal of Religion in Africa. 39 (3), pp. 262-294. https://doi.org/10.1163/157006609X449946
Agricultural cycle and the prevalence of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: a longitudinal community study in postwar Mozambique
Igreja, Victor, Kleijn, Wim, Dias-Lambranca, Beatrice, Hershey, Douglas A., Calero, Clara and Richters, Annemiek. 2009. "Agricultural cycle and the prevalence of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: a longitudinal community study in postwar Mozambique." Journal of Traumatic Stress. 22 (3), pp. 172-179. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.20412
Gamba spirits, gender relations, and healing in post-civil war Gorongosa, Mozambique
Igreja, Victor, Dias-Lambranca, Beatrice and Richters, Annemiek. 2008. "Gamba spirits, gender relations, and healing in post-civil war Gorongosa, Mozambique." Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 14 (2), pp. 350-367. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9655.2008.00506.x
Memories as weapons: the politics of peace and silence in post-civil war Mozambique
Igreja, Victor. 2008. "Memories as weapons: the politics of peace and silence in post-civil war Mozambique." Journal of Southern African Studies. 34 (3), pp. 539-556. https://doi.org/10.1080/03057070802259720
When the war was over, little changed: Women’s posttraumatic suffering after the war in Mozambique
Igreja, Victor, Kleijn, Wim and Richters, Annemiek. 2006. "When the war was over, little changed: Women’s posttraumatic suffering after the war in Mozambique." Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 194 (7), pp. 502-509. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.nmd.0000228505.36302.a3