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Fertile DisorderSpirit Possession and Its Provocation of the Modern$
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Kalpana Ram

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824836306

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824836306.001.0001

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Learning Possession, Becoming Healer

Learning Possession, Becoming Healer

(p.132) Chapter 5 Learning Possession, Becoming Healer
Fertile Disorder

Kalpana Ram

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter focuses on a category of female mediums who acquire “healing” powers while possessed. It begins by presenting the stories of the healers whom the author met during her first period of fieldwork in Kanyakumari district in the 1980s, followed by a case study of a medium called Mutamma, whom she encountered in 1996 among Dalit agricultural women in Chengalpattu district. The chapter then shows how these women act as mediums despite spirit possession, and how the quality of their relationship with the spirits changes. It also considers how agency and forms of skill might be cultivated without the analyst having to rely exclusively on conscious cognitive operations such as decisions, choices, and the imposition of will on the external world. Finally, it explores the ways in which women mediums deal with pregnancy and childbirth within the context of personhood.

Keywords:   female mediums, women, spirits, agency, skill, pregnancy, childbirth, personhood, healing, spirit possession

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