From sickness to history: Evil spirits, memory, and responsibility in an Ethiopian market village

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article discusses contemporary anxieties about buda spirit attacks around a marketplace in Amhara region, Ethiopia. It asks how we get from the immediate experience of a buda attack – an emotionally intense scene of sickness, fear, and uncertainty – to a reflexive situation in which buda becomes a vehicle for discussing and understanding deep historic concerns about market exchange. I make two main arguments: first, that apparent connections between spiritual attack and the spread of capitalism actually reflect a deeper-lying opposition, on the part of landed elites, between moral hospitality and immoral exchange. Second, I show how this historical consciousness develops from processes of verification and questioning by which immediate experiences of sickness and fear becomes interpretable as buda attacks associated with particular human agents and historical relationships. It is only by following this local epistemological work that we can understand how spirits become identifiable as historical agents within a web of other social relations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-406
JournalAfrica
Volume87
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2017

Keywords

  • Ethiopia
  • Orthodox Christianity
  • witchcraft
  • value
  • slavery
  • buda

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'From sickness to history: Evil spirits, memory, and responsibility in an Ethiopian market village'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this