Archive - Shrines, Substances and Medicine in Africa: Archaeological, Anthropological and Historical Perspectives.
A Day Conference held on Friday 18th September 2009, The Wellcome Trust, Euston Road, London.
The speakers were Laurence Douny, Timothy Insoll, Benjamin Kankpeyeng, Murray Last, John Mack, Brian Morris, John Parker, Mike Rowlands, Roger Sansi Roca, and Richard Werbner.
The edited conference papers will be published as a special issue of the journal, Anthropology and Medicine, scheduled to appear in early 2011. It is projected that this volume will explore a range of topics, for instance -
Disease transference and materialisation. How disease and illness is potentially treated through, for example, physical representation of diseased individuals in shrine contexts, and how this might be linked with rethinking corporeality and sacrifice (Koma, Ghana).
Materialising and recognising ephemeral places and processes. How power and place are linked and how this can be materialised in the landscape through unremarked trees and groves (Maguzawa, Nigeria), central places for well-being and as loci for healing rituals but posing major challenges to archaeologists and historians in their material recognition. Or how speech based healing process and mediumship (tromba, Madagascar) can also be linked with specific substances and material culture.
The questions of medicine shrine typology and classification. How both medicine shrines and shrine based and derived medical practices and substances are fluid categories (Talensi, Ghana) related more to ritual practice and context of practice as opposed to a rigid typology of shrines separating ‘medicine’ and ‘others’.
Investigating the complexities of the healing process. How shrines and the substances associated with them might not be the source of medicine or healing themselves (Tswapong, Botswana) but a key element in the overall process of healing and continued well-being that can ultimately be ascribed to other agents.
The inter-relation of protection, shrines, medicine, and well-being. Through exploring the primacy of certain substances, for example millet and blood (Dogon, Mali), blood (Koma, Ghana), and iron (Talensi, Ghana).
Shrine franchising, spread, and transformation. Thinking about processes by which shrines, gods, and cults – medicine and otherwise – are spread and the physical substances used to move them, and how they are reconfigured, interpreted and transformed in new environments and cultural settings in the regional African context (Tongnaab, Ghana; Tswapong, Botswana), and beyond (Afro-Brazilian Candomblé).
Click here for the archive conference posters and abstracts.