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Title:Wombs and alien spirits: women, men and the Zar cult in Northern Sudan
Author:Boddy, JaniceISNI
Series:New directions in anthropological writing
City of publisher:Madison, WI
Publisher:University of Wisconsin Press
ISBN:0299123103; 0299123146
Geographic term:Sudan
Subjects:spirit possession
rural women
Marital Relations and Nuptiality
Cultural Roles
Religion and Witchcraft
Abstract:Based on nearly two years of ethnographic fieldwork in a Muslim village in northern Sudan, this study offers a multidimensional interpretation, of the 'zar', a spirit possession cult dominated by women. The book is organized into three parts. Part 1 examines the moral universe of village women by discussing the meaning of female circumcision, personhood, kinship, marriage, and bodily integrity. Part 2 introduces the 'zar' cult and, with several examples, describes the conditions under which possession, initially an illness, might occur. The author discusses the role of possession in the lives of men as well as women, both as members of families exhibiting a propensity for spirit intrusion and as individuals suffering from poor self-image largely occasioned by infertility. Part 3 describes the spirit world apart from specific incidences of possession in order to understand what messages villagers might derive from their experiences of spirits.