"Embodying Colonial Memories" is the first in-depth study of the West African "Hauka," spirits in the body of (human) mediums which mimic and mock Europeans of the colonial epoch. Paul Stoller, who was initiated into a spirit possession troupe, recounts an insider's tale of the "Hauka" with respect and "brotherly" deference. He combines narrative description, historical analysis, and reflections on the importance of embodiment and mimesis to social theory, with particular reference to the Songhay peoples of the Republic of Niger.
Why have the "Hauka" mimicked white men and their colonial behaviors? In this innovative book, Stoller argues that mimicry is about power. To copy something is to master it. Through the "Hauka," the Songhay try to divert the power of the Europeans.
"Embodying Colonial Memories" not only desribes a spirit possession cult; it considers such significant subjects as the cultural sentience of the body, the dynamics of colonial movements of resistance, and the particularly poignant political discourses of West African postcolonies.
..."the book should be read for what the Haukas's fascinating history teaches us about the politics of possession and the aesthetics of power."
-"Religious Studies Review
"This is learning in it's most fundamental form and it would be useful for us to consider the lessons that books such as "Embodying Colonial Memories have for the creation of a more encompassing anthropology of education."
-"Anthopology & Education Quarterly