Transgressing Boundaries: Digital as a Space for Esoteric Practices

Apparently a group men sitting on the floor, some of them clapping, some playing drums; except form two they are dressed in long white dresses, some wearing a kufi (head wrap)

My doctoral dissertation, which I defended at the Institute of Ethnology at the University of Heidelberg, is on the topic of “Zar Ritual and Expression of Gender Identity in Hormozgan Province, Iran.” In Hormozgan, Zar is a general term for all spirits that attack people for various reasons and a method of treating a possessed […]

On Knowing and Not-Knowing Spirits in Indonesian Borneo

Wooden floor covered with cloth, blankets, thin mattresses; in the right part of the picture, two people of female appearance lying beneath each other on the floor lower body covered with blanket; a shaman crouches at the head of the one person and seems to talk to the person; the shaman places a plant on the person's stomach; on the left side of the picture another person holds a house made of plants for the spirit; a wooden doll lies on the floor; in the background many people watching; colorful cloth

“You never know when it comes to spirits,” the renowned Luangan shaman (belian) Kakah Ramat once told me. “You don’t know whether it is Bongai, Bansi or Tentuwaja who is guilty of causing an illness.” “That’s why you need to bring offerings to all of them,” he continued. While it may be particularly difficult to […]

Relational Ontologies of Illness, and the Nigerian Sahel

Three people are standing between plants in front of a table, on which there is also a small plant in a top and on which visibly different plant parts and herbs are processed - one sees different species lying around, partly already crushed. Two of the people are standing in the background, one is holding a bowl in his hands. The person in the foreground, apparently responsible for processing the plants and herbs, is smelling a bunch of plants or herbs. In his right hand he holds the tool, perhaps a mortar, which he needs for processing.

I recently gave a talk titled “Relational Ontologies of Illness, and the Nigerian Sahel.” I explored conversations of religious healers with spirits about how, when, and where shifting ecologies of the Sahel are affecting human and spirit movements, and lafiya, a Hausa term for health, well-being and balance. I also suggested ways that human and non-human beings […]