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Trance Mediums and New MediaSpirit Possession in the Age of Technical Reproduction$
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Heike Behrend, Anja Dreschke, and Martin Zillinger

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823253807

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823253807.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use.date: 31 July 2021

Transmitting Divine Grace: On the Materiality of Charismatic Mediation in Mali

Transmitting Divine Grace: On the Materiality of Charismatic Mediation in Mali

(p.183) Transmitting Divine Grace: On the Materiality of Charismatic Mediation in Mali
Trance Mediums and New Media

Dorothea E. Schulz

Fordham University Press

The paper explores practices and notions of spiritual empowerment that inspire and refract the interaction between supporters of the Muslim renewal movement Ansar Dine in Mali and their leader, the charismatic preacher Sheikh Haidara. Sheikh Haidara’s acolytes produce and circulate various religious paraphernalia, along transnational ties of trade and proselytizing, and thus create a religious community that connects fellow acolytes in Guinea, Ivory Coast, France and US-American cities, among them New York and Chicago. Particularly popular items are wall decorations, bumper stickers and dress accessories that bear, in green letters on a white background, the logo of the movement, as well as passages from suras, various quotes, portraits and honorific titles of Sheikh Haidara and his family. By teasing out the complexities of the relationship that Sheikh Haidara’s followers posit between religious paraphernalia, touch, and the bodily mediation of charismatic power, the paper makes a sustained argument for an understanding of the materiality of religious objects, and of people’s engagements with them, as an important site and medium for the making and remaking of religious attachment, community and authority. Furthermore, by paying close attention to believers’ material and social practices in settings conventionally conceived as belonging to the realm of mundane daily life, the paper enters a plea for reconceptualizing the sites, means, and forms of “religious” experience, in Muslim West Africa and, possibly, beyond.

Keywords:   Dorothea E. Schulz, Mali, West Africa, Islam, Renewal movement, Tactility, Body techniques, Mediation of charismatic power

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