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In Sorcery's Shadow : Memoir of Apprenticeship Among the Songhay of Niger - Paul Stoller

In Sorcery's Shadow

Memoir of Apprenticeship Among the Songhay of Niger

Paperback

Published: 1st March 1989
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$59.25

The tale of Paul Stoller's sojourn among sorcerors in the Republic of Niger is a story of growth and change, of mutual respect and understanding that will challenge all who read it to plunge deeply into an alien world.

Compelling if somewhat unsettling account of a white American anthropologist's personal experiences with the techniques and effects of a form of present-day African sorcery. Husband-and-wife team Stoller (West Chester U.) and Olkes tell a fast-moving tale of times spent among Songhay peoples in the northwestern comer of Niger, a land replete with vast stretches of sand dunes in skin-blistering heat, mud-brick compounds, drought-stricken agriculture, pythons, egrets, and small towns in which hospitality centers around gifts of goats and chickens. In a series of extended anthropological field trips between 1976 and 1984, Stoller found himself ever more deeply enmeshed not only in learning about but also in participating in older magical power systems that lie beneath the Islamic surface. Practitioners of sorcery in the towns of Mehanna, Tillaberi, and Wanzerbe appeared with perfect timing to instruct him on names and uses of a vast number of magical powders, sacred incantations, animal sacrifices, possession dances, divination by cowry shells, and knowledge of the family of Tooru spirit deities. Portraits of individuals and community lifestyles are deftly drawn, revealing Stoller's deep respect for Songhay culture and the people within it, creating a believable, sometimes humorous, engaging blend of exotic travel and hidden mysteries - with a comforting dose of pragmatic skepticism. Unlike so many contemporary writings, this is not a book about discovering an ancient wisdom of love and compassion; despite some reports of healings and protective spells, it is primarily about the fiercely competitive and spiteful uses of powers that created an attitude of defensive, even paranoid, social interactions so intense that they eventually frightened Stoller enough to call a halt to his participation. A well-written glimpse into a generally unfamiliar world that may shed light on some of the sources of Voodoo and Condomblein the Americas. (Kirkus Reviews)

Prologue
Acknowledgments
Personae
1976-77
Mehanna
A Lesson in Survey Research
Discussion Groups
Guided Interpretations
Two Birds in the Rafters Are Better Than One in the Bush
Sorko Djibo
An Apprentice's First Mission
Immersed in Texts
Wanzerbe
Initiation
Witches
A Tonic for Work
Between Sound and the Shadow
Tillaberi
The Young Sohanci
Asking Questions
Prison Years
The Coming of Serci
Words of Protection
On the Road
Vengeance for the Powerful
1979-80
Frightening Discoveries
Evidence of Power
Repelled by the Cold in Ayoru
An Interpretation
The Path to Wanzerbe
A Test of Hardness
1981
Rites of Clairvoyance
Sohanci Business
Journey Under the River
Amadu Zima
An Invitation from Kassey
1982-83
A Father and His Son
Fatouma
Kassey
1984
Power in the Compound
A Lecture on Medicine
Mehanna Revisited
The Way of the Cowry
Showdown with Djibo
Last Stand in Wanzerbe Epilogue: In Sorcery's Shadow
Glossary
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780226775432
ISBN-10: 0226775437
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 252
Published: 1st March 1989
Publisher: UNIV OF CHICAGO PR
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.96 x 15.01  x 1.6
Weight (kg): 0.32
Edition Number: 2
Edition Type: New edition