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African Power

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West African Mediums Catering to Surinamese Clients in the Netherlands

image of African Diaspora

This paper explores how West African migrants’ movements impacts their religious imagery and that of those they encounter in the diaspora. It specifically addresses how, through the circulation of objects, rituals, and themselves, West Africans and Black Dutchmen of Surinamese descent link, in a Dutch urban setting, spiritual empowering and protection to the African soil. West African ‘mediums’ offer services such as divination and amulet making since about twenty years in the Netherlands. Dutch-Surinamese clients form a large part of their clientele, soliciting a connection to African, ancestral spiritual power, a power which West African mediums enforce through the use of herbs imported from West Africa and by rituals, such as animal sacrifices and libations, arranged for in West Africa. This paper explores how West Africans and Dutchmen of Surinamese descent, through a remarkable mix of repertoires alluding to notions of Africa, Sufi Islam, Winti, and Western divination, creatively reinvent a shared understanding of ‘African power’.

Affiliations: 1: University of Bayreuth


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