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A typology of spirit possession

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on Hebgas agency as he mediates between normative discourses and popular needs. By analysing Hebgas typology of possession, it looks at the workings of his localizing agency as a cultural broker. Drawing on his experience of African patients in general and Cameroonian patients in particular, Hebga distinguishes four categories of noxious possessors: spirits of the dead, genii, living witches or sorcerers, and demons. This is not only to legitimate his sometimes criticized practice but also to make the problems of his patients meaningful and solvable within a Catholic context, precisely that of Charismatic Renewal. The chapter shows that compared with North American Charismatic demonology, Hebgas classification draws less on Western psychopathology and builds more on the experiences of his patients. It argues that Hebgas fourfold typology of spirit possession is an instance of religious localization and cultural translation which diabolizes some aspects of African religions and cultures.

Keywords: Cameroonian patients; Catholic context; demonology; demons; Meinrad Hebga; spirit possession; typology; witches



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