Accepted Paper:

Body and soul in the occult imaginary in the contemporary Central African Republic   


Aleksandra Cimpric (University of Provence (Aix-Marseille I))

Paper short abstract:

The notions of body and soul are present in the contemporary representations of occult forces. I will explore the different manners of these representations, related to body and soul, and which are their impacts on the urban population of Bangui the capital city of Central African Republic.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I would like to argue the importance of the « body » and the « soul » in the representations of witchcraft and occult practice in contemporary urban context of Bangui (Central African Republic). The stories of steeling and selling some parts of the body or even the body (especially the soul), of zombies, of vampires, of Mamy-Wata, of crocodile man and of others "figures of the imaginary" (Tonda, 2005) are omnipresent in different parts of the sub-Saharan Africa. The population of African cities are living in a permanent spiritual insecurity (Ashforth, 2005), in the fear of being abducted, taken away or "eaten" by the actors of this occult night world.

Through the study of this imaginary, by using some examples of my recent fieldwork in Bangui, I will investigate firstly the relation of body/soul and the occult imaginary. I will point out that the concepts of the body and the soul are closely related to the representations of the occult forces (witchcraft). Finally, I will argue that the significations and representations of body and soul have been reinterpreted, readjusted and transformed by introducing in the discourse of witchcraft the notions of power, consumption, production, exchange and wealth.

TONDA, J., 2005, Le Souverain moderne. Le corps du pouvoir en Afrique centrale (Congo, Gabon), Paris, Karthala, 2005, 297 p.

ASHFORTH, A., 2005, Witchcraft, Violence, and Democracy in South Africa. The University of Chicago Press

Panel W011
Body and soul: on corporeality in contemporary religiosity