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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Beyond expertise: reflections on specialist agency and the autonomy of the divinatory ritual process
Author:Graw, KnutISNI
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic terms:Gambia
indigenous knowledge
External links:https://doi.org/10.3366/E0001972008000624
Abstract:Recent anthropological studies of divination have been marked by renewed and appreciative concern for the epistemological and performative dimensions of divination. Pursuing these recent investigations, and especially their interest in the nature of the knowledge and modes of knowing underlying divinatory ritual, the first part of the article attempts an understanding of the interpretative operations and modalities of knowledge involved in different forms of divination practised in Senegal and Gambia today. At the same time, and somewhat antithetically, it is argued that the focus on the question of the cognitive nature of divinatory knowledge and the person of the diviner may also be problematic: it may lead to undervaluing the main quality of divination, which lies perhaps not in its cognitive but its consultational properties. Further decentring its initial cognitive outlook, the second part of the article addresses the question of how to understand the fact that within the divinatory discourse itself it is not the diviner but the divinatory apparatus that is being addressed as the source of enunciation. Where, if not in the person of the diviner, is the source of the knowledge underlying and resulting from divinatory procedure to be located? And in how far is it possible, as the title of the article suggests, to conceive of the divinatory process as being autonomous of the expertise and specialist agency of the individual diviner? Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]