Social Life of Spirits

pp. v-vi Contenta



Auctor, -trix



On the Agency of Intangibles

Diana E.S. & Ruy B.

1 to 32


Intangible Motion amongst the Batonga in Southern Zambia

Thomas G. Kirsch



Mongolian Re'gimes of Communication

Gre`gory deLaPlace



Spiritual Praesentiae in Toba Society of the Gran Chaco

Florencia C. Tola



Macumba Spirits and Stories in the Crossroads of Rio de Janeiro

Va^nia Zika`n Cardoso



Enchanted Entities along the Amazon

Mark Harris



Spirit-Materialities in Afro-Cuban Religion

Kristina Wirtz



Paje` Dreams, Chants, and Social Life

Ana Stela de Almeida Cunha



A Caboclo in Brazilian Umbanda

Emerson Giumbelli



Fieldwork with the Dragon

Susan Greenwood



Cajon pa' los Muertos

Stephan Palmie`


pp. 295-8 Auctores et Auctrices







Ruy Blanes


of Lisbon


Va^nia Zika`n Cardoso


of Santa Catarina, Brazil


Ana Stela de Almeida Cunha


FTC Portugal



Gre`gory deLaPlace


of Paris


Diana Espi`ritu Santo


Universidade Nova, Lisbon


Emerson Giumbelli


of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil


Susan Greenwood


of London


Mark Harris


of St Andrews

Thomas G. Kirsch


of Konstanz

Stephan Palmie`


of Chicago


Florencia C. Tola


of Buenos Aires

Kristina Wirtz


Western MI



C.R.I.A. = Centro em Rede de Investigac,a~o em Antropologia

L.E.S.C. = Laboratoire d'Ethnologie et de Sociologie Comparative

N.E.R. = Centre for Religious Studies

Capp. 1-3.



On the Agency of Intangibles

Diana E.S. & Ruy B.

1 to 32

pp. 18-20 spirit-biographies of the invisible realm

p. 18

"in 2010, ... we organized a panel at the American Anthropological Association's annual meeting, in New Orleans, called "Researching Spirit Biographies," ... with a double objective ... :

On the one hand, to share ... revealed forms of mediation and agency that transcended the traditional "objectivity" -- or objective pretense -- of scientific empiria (see Baca, Khan, and Palmie` 2010).

On the other hand, ... to reflect upon the epistemological weight of these biographies ... .

Our contention ... is that spiritual or religious "entities," ... can and must ... be seen through ... trajectories they trace in the world ... -- ... logical, cosmological".

p. 19

"the memorial narrativization of ghost or spirit encounters is performed through ... dream telling ... or


{experiencing the ghost or spirit in a vision; or, diagnosing by seeing the ailment praeternaturally}

and consequent counseling ... . ...

{expounding : publicly the ghost's message to the community; or, privately, the cure for a patient's ailment}

Several ethnographies have shown us how biographies and personal histories also occur betwixt and between the "invisible realm"

p. 20

(West 2005). We find such biographies and effects in ... myths (Gow 2001), man-gods (Roma`n 2007), and so forth."

Baca, Khan, and Palmie` 2010 = George Baca; Aisha Khan; & Stephan Palmie` (edd.) : Empirical Futures : Anthropologists ... Engage the Work ... . Chapel Hill : Univ of NC Pr.

West 2005 = Harry West : Kupilikula : ... the Invisible Realm in Mozambique. Univ of Chicago Pr.

Gow 2001 = Peter Gow : An Amazonian Myth and Its History. Oxford Univ Pr.

Roma`n 2007 = Reinaldo Roma`n : Governing Spirits ... in Cuba and Puerto Rico ... . Chapel Hill : Univ of NC Pr.

p. 22 spirit-mediation via incorporation

"Possession cults are prime examples of how entities manifest more or less directly through the articulations of medikums' bodies and voices , ... through ... graded forms of "incorporation," where selves can temporarily coexist

without the annihilation of

{i.e., retaining the feasibility of recovery, or restoration, of}

the medium's consciousness."

{which, however, may remain in abeyance for a brief duration}

p. 23 symbolic opacity of significance to spirit-experiencer

"The "spirit" in question is, then, a category of experience (oppressive social relations, economic hardship, illness, ... the need for ... answers, etc.)

{Incorrect! The "spirit" (divinity, a membre of one's cohort of divine protectors) is not the unpleasant experience itself, but instead is a benevolent power arriving from otherworldly source so as to rescue and to protect from such an unpleasant experience!}

that must remain opaque to the experiencer in order for the symbolic properties {which are often a simplified repraesentation of the situation} of the same experience to have effects."

{The reason for this indefiniteness/obscurity as to sourcing is largely due to the divine world's wishing not to confound nor dismay the mortal being therewith guided; for too much intricacy could have those undesirable effects. [written Feb 13 2015]}

p. 23 efforts at describing a praeternatural system

"Ochoa's (2007, 2010b) recent work on Cuban Palo Monte, a Congo-inspired ritual tradition "too unexpected in its basic assumptions about the status of matter, the dead, and the living ... as these are defined, above all, by their adherence to regimes of knowing organized under the signs of negation, identity, and being" (2007, 479). Ochoa draws from

Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Deleuze to devise a language by which he describes Palo's ... turns of the dead, ... in bodies and things,

{It would be to no avail to draw on any of these atheistic materialists, who neither knew nor cared anything about the topic of survival of souls after death. Any purported information gleaned from them would be useless and quite inapplicable.}

the "morphogenic dynamisms" (ibid., 481) inherent to the immanence ... of the spirits worked and embodied by ritual specialists."

Ochoa 2007 = Todd Ramon Ochoa : "Versions of the Dead : Kalunga, Cuban-Kongo ... Ethnography". CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY 22.4:473-500.

Ochoa 2010b = Todd Ramon Ochoa : Society of the Dead : Quita Manaquita and Palo Praise in Cuba. Berkeley : Univ of CA Pr.

p. 24 transformational systems for mediated knowing of reality

"Among the Mayotte of Madagascar, ... the spirit generally appears in a host in order to make itself known to a third party and to pass on messages; it must interact with the host's proxies, developing a relationship with these ... ."

"Like Jeanne Favret-Saada (1980) argues ..., the point here is to ... spirit phenomena ... to unwind and understand the processes in which it can exist and have effects."

"Piers Vitebsky's Dialogues with the Dead (1993) ... explores the Sora people's relationship with their dead, with whom they have elaborate conversations through mediums."

Favret-Saada 1980 = Jeanne Favret-Saada : Deadly Words. Cambridge Univ Pr.

p. 26 inhaerent plurality of personhood; plurality inhaerent in divinity

In Candomble`, "indeed, a person is conceived as multiple, "... as a substantive and an index of pluralism in opposition to all forms of binarism and its variations" ([Goldman] 2007, 113)."

""Divinatory power," Holbraad says, "most crucially involves ... 'ontological leaps' on the part of the deity, from transcendance to immanence ..." ([2007], 207)."

Goldman 2007 = Marcio Goldman : "Ontology and Multiplicity in Candomble`". In :- David Berliner & & Ramon Sarro` (edd.) : Learning Religion : Anthropological Approaches. NY : Berghahn Bks. pp. 103-20.

Holbraad 2007 = Martin Holbraad : "Multiplicity aned Motion in the Divinatory Cosmology of Cuban Ifa`". In :- Amiria Henare; Martin Holbraad; Sari Wastell (edd.) : Thinking Through Things : Theorising Artefacts Ethnographically. London : Routledge. pp. 189-225.

p. 29 spirits as informants

"There is an advantage, as Nils Bubandt (2009) puts it, in treating spirits as "methodologically real," or even as informants proper, inasmuch as they are often both instruments and actors. ... In treating the social life of invisible, intangible, or otherwise sensorially alter phenomena through a pragmatic lens, our intention is also to review

the possibility {actuality, not mere "possibility"} that personhood or selfhood does not always {in fact, hardly ever doth} end at the limits of the body, mind, or conventional space-time."

{One's own sense of "personhood or selfhood" is always experienced as extending far beyond one's body (because one can see and hear beyond one's body) and beyond one's living-quarters in space-time (because one can read and think about places and times beyond where one may be residing). [written Jan 9 2015]}

Bubandt 2009 = Nils Bubandt : "Spirits as Informants ... in North Maluku". ETHNOGRAPHY 10.3:291-316.



Intangible Motion amongst the Batonga in Southern Zambia

Thomas G. Kirsch


p. 40 storing of assistant-spirits

"many "traditional" herbalists (bang-anga; sing., mung-anga) possess paraphernalia, which they present as "containers" for their spiritual assistants. For example, ... a mung-anga in Sinazeze, ... in the Gwembe Valley, made use of two calabashes ... . ... In the course of a divinatory session, the mung-anga conversed with

the spirits of two dead people whom he described as living in the calabashes, and whom he occasionally made leave in order to travel to the homestead of the afflicted person to discover the cause of the disease."

{In actuality, "the spirits of two dead people" would be no more capable of finding such information than would they have been capable while alive. If the spirits sent are successful in finding such information, that would be a strong indication that they are no "dead people", but rather of some category of immortal divinities. (Some divinities may feign being dead persons, if such feigning will help them to be heeded by usually-untrusting mortals.)}

{These spirits dwelling "in calabashes" may be similiar to the divinities kept in jars by Taoist hierarchs.}



Mongolian Re'gimes of Communication

Gre`gory deLaPlace


p. 52 ghosts {preta-s}

""ghosts" are supposed to originate from the "souls" (su:ns) of people who "could not find a proper rebirth" ... . The reason for this could be ... that funerary rituals were not performed properly ... . ... At any rate, they are ... trying to lure the ones they loved during life into joining them in death."

pp. 53-4 praeternatural land-owner {land-wight}

p. 53

"Sometimes, ... the encountered entity is ... a nonhuman "land master" {or "land mistress"} (gazryn ezen) -- a spirit that dwells in a specific area and is held

p. 54

responsible for such phenomena as weather, livestock health, or fortune in hunting."

p. 54 haunted by imps

"some "ghosts" (gu:idel) are likened to ... "imps" (Swancutt 2008)

with apparently full-fledged corporeality

{The aitheric double (lower astral body) is capable of influencing material substances.}

might also be reported to haunt houses."

Swancutt 2008 = Katherine Swancutt : "The Undead Genealogy : ... Mongolian Vampirism". J OF THE ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE 14:843-64.

p. 54 so-called "invisibles"

"a point made, once again, by Pierre De'le'age (2007) : characterizing these things as "invisible" does not mean that nobody can ever see them ... but that their encounter is subject to a specific perceptual modality ... :

rather than absolutely "invisible," these "things" are perceivable only by some people, in some contexts, and{/or} in a particular way."

{Similar remarks apply also to, e.g., the <arabi term /Gayb/ 'invisible'.}

De'le'age 2007 = Pierre De'le'age : "Trois points de vue sur les revenants Sharanahua". L'HOMME 183:117-46.

p. 56 rite (performed by a woman) to exorcise ghost from bed in house

"in the dark, I walked twenty-one steps, I put it on the ground, I went back walking backwad, washed my hands, and then the paper sounded -- ... everything had disappeared. It is as if this ... soul had come".

p. 60 for other countries : ghostly "as if" (Hellenic /para/, Latin /quasi/) style of apparition

"The Kulung Rai of Nepal, as documented by Gre'goire Schlemmer ..., when recounting an ... apparition, insist that it sounded ... "like {alike unto} the bell-belts worn by diviners," ... (2004, 115 ...).

... among the Cluniac monks ..., Jean-Claude Schmitt (1994, 40) has reported the use of the adverb "quasi" in descriptions of apparitions.

The same ... has been noted by Emmanuel de Vienne (2010, 178) among the Amazonian Trumai, who use the word nawan ... to describe the way "spirits" (denetsak) appear to people."

Schlemmer 2004 = Gre'goire Schlemmer : Vues d'esprits ... chez les Kulung Rai de Ne'pal. PhD diss, Universite' Paris 10, Nanterre.

Schmitt 1994 = Jean-Claude Schmitt : Les Revenants. Paris : Gallimard.

de Vienne 2010 = Emmanuel de Vienne : Traditions en souffrance : ... chamanisme et rituel chez les Trumai du Haut-Xingu, Mato Grosso. PhD diss, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris.

p. 61 synaisthesia as metaphor for praeternatural sensing, in Mongolia

"He said I had heard the smell, and that ...

{describing the power of clairalience as if it were synaisthesia}

he had seen an old lady. ...

{apparently, a d.akini}

Himself, he was someone who could see things with his eyes."

{He had the power of "2nd sight".}

p. 63 ghosts among the Nanassan

"the returning souls among Siberian Nganassan ... appear to people under the guise of persons repeating systematically the words of greeting said to them by unfortunate passersby, who will eventually get upset ... with the apparitions (Lambert 2002-2003, 313)."

Lambert 2002-3 = Jean-Luc Lambert : "Sortir de la Nuit : ... le chamanisme nganassane ...". special issue, E'TUDES MONGOLES ET SIBE'RIENNES 33-34.

pp. 66-7 seers & shamans

p. 66

"ghosts, spirits, and all these things that are called "invisible" in Mongolian are not perceivable by everybody in the same way.

Indeed, whereas most people can only have fragmentary glimpses of them, some seem to be able to see them fully and continually. ... No reason is really given to account for this special ability ... .

{A greater ability to sense the praeternatural may be due to one's ancestry (ancestors and relatives interested in such), to one's studies (likewise in the supernatural), or simply to a vibrational resonance of such praeternaturals (whether landwights or species-guardians or elementals) with modes of one's soul or spirit.}

Of course, it is quite frequent {universal, except only among modern atheistical materialists} across human societies for specific people to be recognized as having special knowledge of, or privileged access to, the invisible world. In Ulaanbaatar, there are shamans (bo:bo:) who are credited with the ability to see and act on invisible things."

p. 67

"Tuvans ... however recognize shamans' ability to both "perceive and interact" ([Ste`panoff 2007], 486) with the invisible."

Ste`panoff 2007 = Charles Ste`panoff : Les corps conducteurs ... de l'exemple Tuva. PhD diss, Ecole Practique des Hautes E'tudes, Paris.


Ruy Blanes & Diana Espi`rito Santo (edd.) : The Social Life of Spirits. Univ of Chicago Pr, 2014.