Accepted Paper:

Marketed spirituality: African healers in the Netherlands  

Author:

Amber Gemmeke (University of Bayreuth)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on clientele-building of African healers in the Netherlands. It explores specifically how notions of the sacred are transferred, modified, or rejected within the discursive translation of 'spiritual' practices between African healers and non-African clients in the Dutch setting.

Paper long abstract:

This paper addresses the translation of spiritual, African, and Islamic worldviews in a European, dechurching Christian context. It focuses on the ways in which African healers set up a clientele, through personal and publicized means, in the Netherlands. It addresses specifically the translations and adaptations of their services, practices, and visual and verbal presentation to the Dutch setting. The paper is based upon fieldwork in Senegal in 2004-2006 and in the Netherlands in 2011-2013.

The Netherlands is a relatively new market in African healers' multilocal networks. Coming mostly from Muslim West African countries such as Guinee, Senegal, the Gambia, Mali, and Nigeria, they establish since about twenty years networks in the Netherlands. Some healers advertise in newspapers, on the internet, on the radio and with door-to-door leaflets. Many find their clientele, however, through friends, colleagues, neighbors and family. In the Netherlands, African healers cater to a clientele consisting mostly of Africans and Surinamese, and, to a lesser extent, Antilleans, Moroccans, Turks, and Dutch. Taking the discursive translation of 'spiritual' practices between African healers and their non-African clients in the Netherlands as a starting point, this paper explores how notions of the sacred are transferred, modified, or rejected.

Panel P20
Fluidity, mobility and versatility of the sacred