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Dominicanidad / Dominicanity

Perspectivas de un concepto (trans-)nacional / Perspectives on a (trans-)national concept


Edited By Christine Felbeck and Andre Klump

Con unos 20 artículos de investigadores/-as de Europa, de los Estados Unidos y de la República Dominicana, la presente obra interdisciplinaria e internacional ofrece un panorama actual de la investigación sobre la dominicanidad como concepto (trans-)nacional en sus contextos mundiales, insulares y nacionales. Los estudios son fruto en gran parte de un congreso organizado por el America Romana Centrum (ARC) de la Universidad de Trier en el año 2014.

With about 20 articles from researchers from Europe, the United States and the Dominican Republic, this interdisciplinary and international volume offers a current panorama of the research on dominicanity as a (trans-)national concept in global, insular and national contexts. The studies are largely a result of a congress organized by the America Romana Centrum (ARC) of the University of Trier in 2014.

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“Wild” spirit possession in the Dominican Republic: From expression of distress to cultural expertise (Yvonne Schaffler)


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Yvonne Schaffler (Vienna)

“Wild” spirit possession in the Dominican Republic: From expression of distress to cultural expertise1

1.  Introduction

Spirit possession involves a temporary alteration of consciousness (trance or dissociation) during which the possessed person feels and acts as though a spirit’s identity has replaced her own, followed by reported amnesia for the event (see for example Bourguignon 1973, 1976; Cardeña et al. 2009; Klass 2003; Rouget 1985). While episodes of possession continue to be unfamiliar and exotic to most observers from Europe or North America, they are common in many resource-poor, as well as industrialized, nations. For example, in a review of 488 societies, E. Bourguignon (see 1973a) found that in 74 % of these societies a belief in spirit possession was prevalent, and in 90 % of these societies, altered states of consciousness (trance or dissociation) were institutionalized. On the isle of Hispaniola, spirit possession is performed within the religious context of vodou. Possession in vodou has been typically described as a culturally sanctioned and rewarded practise of ritual healing (see Bourguignon 1976; Davis 1987; Desmangles/Cardeña 1994, Sax/Weinhold 2010) but several authors also mentioned it as an explanatory framework for illness (see Agosto Muñoz 1972; Khoury et al. 2012; Lewis 1971/1989, 60).

In this article, I want to explore spirit possession in vodou (resp. vodú) in the Dominican Republic, with particular emphasis on a variety connected to affliction that affects only a fraction...

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