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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: 17 September 2021

Rites of Reception: Mass-Mediated Trance and Public Order in Morocco

Rites of Reception: Mass-Mediated Trance and Public Order in Morocco

(p.137) Rites of Reception: Mass-Mediated Trance and Public Order in Morocco
Trance Mediums and New Media

Emilio Spadola

Fordham University Press

My chapter examines the distinctly mass-mediated performances of a female Muslim trance (spirit) medium, Fatima M., and the implications of this performance for a media-“empowered” mass subject. Current Muslim-world media theorists argue that access to technological media, from audiocassettes to Twitter, gives once muted and dominated subjects a mass-mediated voice (See the June demonstrations in Iran.) A spirit medium could be metynomic of such a muted underclass; for in Morocco, as elsewhere, trance mediums are considered victims of an overwhelming power to which they lose, or, in James T. Siegel’s phrase, “lend” their voice. And, as the media theorists would suppose, Fatima M.—this spirit medium-cum-culture activist—has claimed her voice, staging “Moroccan traditional” possession rites in cultural festival performances, digital audio and video productions, and state radio broadcasts. And yet, contrary to a media-optimistic claim of empowerment, and of voice once lost, now found, I wish to highlight in Fatima’s theatrical performance, the outlines of a second loss—and yet more irrevocable yearning for voice as presence. This loss, and its concomitant nostalgia for authentic, original social unity, cannot be solved by—but rather emerges by virtue of—her entry into technological spacing, circulation, mediation. It is this second loss of voice—as that call which compels unity of subject and society—which I call mass mediumship.

Keywords:   Emilio Spadola, Morocco, Islam, Trance, Media, Performance

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