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The Law of Possession: Ritual, Healing, and the Secular State

edited by William S. Sax, Helene Basu
Format
Book
Published
New York, NY : Oxford University Press, [2015]
Language
English
ISBN
9780190275754, 0190275758, 9780190275747, 019027574X
Summary
"Rituals combining healing with spirit possession and court-like proceedings are found around the world and throughout history. For example, a person suffers from an illness that cannot be cured, and in order to be healed he performs a ritual involving prosecution and defense, a judge and witnesses. Divine beings give evidence through human oracles, spirits possess their human victims and are exorcized, and local gods intervene to provide healing and justice. Such practices seem to be the very antithesis of modernity and many modern, secular states have systematically attempted to eliminate them. Why are such rituals largely absent from modern societies, and what happens to them when the state attempts to expunge them from their health and justice systems, or even to criminalize them? Despite the prevalence of rituals involving some or all of these elements, The Law of Possession represents the first attempt to compare and analyze them systematically. The volume brings together historical and contemporary case studies from East Asia, South Asia, and Africa, and argues that, despite consistent attempts by states to discourage, eliminate, and criminalize them, such rituals persist and even thrive because they meet widespread human needs"--
Contents
  • 1. Introduction / William S. Sax and Helene Basu
  • 2. In the courtroom of jungle saints: the poor and transcendental justice / Helene Basu
  • 3. Between shrine and courtroom: legal pluralism, witchcraft, and spirit agency in southeastern Africa / Arne S. Steinforth
  • 4. Delocalizing illness: healing and the state in Chinese medicine / Dominic Steavu
  • 5. Justice in Erwadi: a case study / Bhargavi Davar
  • 6. Possession and the antisuperstition law in Maharashtra: an actors' perspective on modernization and disenchantment / Johannes Quack
  • 7. "If your brother wants to kill you, kill him first": healing, law, and social justice in an African healer's courtroom / Ferdinand Okwaro
  • 8. Darbar of Goludev: possession, petitions, and modernity / Aditya Malik
  • 9. Gods of justice / William S. Sax.
Description
ix, 255 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Notes
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Technical Details
  • Access in Virgo Classic
  • Staff View

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    g| 1. t| Introduction / r| William S. Sax and Helene Basu -- g| 2. t| In the courtroom of jungle saints: the poor and transcendental justice / r| Helene Basu -- g| 3. t| Between shrine and courtroom: legal pluralism, witchcraft, and spirit agency in southeastern Africa / r| Arne S. Steinforth -- g| 4. t| Delocalizing illness: healing and the state in Chinese medicine / r| Dominic Steavu -- g| 5. t| Justice in Erwadi: a case study / r| Bhargavi Davar -- g| 6. t| Possession and the antisuperstition law in Maharashtra: an actors' perspective on modernization and disenchantment / r| Johannes Quack -- g| 7. t| "If your brother wants to kill you, kill him first": healing, law, and social justice in an African healer's courtroom / r| Ferdinand Okwaro -- g| 8. t| Darbar of Goludev: possession, petitions, and modernity / r| Aditya Malik -- g| 9. t| Gods of justice / r| William S. Sax.
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    a| "Rituals combining healing with spirit possession and court-like proceedings are found around the world and throughout history. For example, a person suffers from an illness that cannot be cured, and in order to be healed he performs a ritual involving prosecution and defense, a judge and witnesses. Divine beings give evidence through human oracles, spirits possess their human victims and are exorcized, and local gods intervene to provide healing and justice. Such practices seem to be the very antithesis of modernity and many modern, secular states have systematically attempted to eliminate them. Why are such rituals largely absent from modern societies, and what happens to them when the state attempts to expunge them from their health and justice systems, or even to criminalize them? Despite the prevalence of rituals involving some or all of these elements, The Law of Possession represents the first attempt to compare and analyze them systematically. The volume brings together historical and contemporary case studies from East Asia, South Asia, and Africa, and argues that, despite consistent attempts by states to discourage, eliminate, and criminalize them, such rituals persist and even thrive because they meet widespread human needs"-- c| Provided by publisher.
    650
      
    0
    a| Political customs and rites.
    650
      
    0
    a| Spirit possession.
    650
      
    0
    a| Justice, Administration of.
    650
      
    7
    a| SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural. 2| bisacsh
    650
      
    7
    a| RELIGION / Hinduism / Rituals & Practice. 2| bisacsh
    650
      
    7
    a| Justice, Administration of. 2| fast 0| (OCoLC)fst00985154
    650
      
    7
    a| Political customs and rites. 2| fast 0| (OCoLC)fst01069276
    650
      
    7
    a| Spirit possession. 2| fast 0| (OCoLC)fst01130054
    700
    1
      
    a| Sax, William Sturman, d| 1957- e| editor.
    700
    1
      
    a| Basu, Helene, e| editor.
    994
      
      
    a| Z0 b| VAL
    596
      
      
    a| 17
    999
      
      
    a| GN492.3 .L38 2015 w| LC i| 35007008558425 l| STACKS m| LAW t| BOOK
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