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Mary and the Demons: Marian Devotion and Ritual Healing in Tanzania

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In this paper I present the complex understanding of illness and healing in the Catholic Marian Faith Healing Ministry (MFHM) in Tanzania. The efficacy of religious healing should be understood as a social process dependent on the plausibility and attractiveness that the rituals have for the individual patients, as well as for their community. By contrasting an analysis of the publications of the leader of the group, Father Nkwera, with guided interviews among the members, I was able to develop a differentiated picture of the broad range of healing concepts within the group. While Nkwera translates local spirit beliefs into an apocalyptic worldview that associates physical healing with political critique—especially in the case of HIV/AIDS—his followers situate the healing process within a framework of personal salvation. In my study, I contextualise the MFHM within its pluralistic traditional, Muslim, Catholic, Pentecostal and biomedical environment that impact it on local and global levels.

Affiliations: 1: Department of the Study of Religions, Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich, Ludwigstr. 31, 80539 Munich, Germany


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