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CUSAS Talk: Dr Ryan O’Byrne (LSE)

When Oct 12, 2017
from 05:00 PM to 07:00 PM
Where Edmund Leach Seminar room, Department of Social Anthropology
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Dr Ryan O’Byrne (LSE): Occult Economies and the Demonic Gift: An Evangelical Biography of Evil and Redemption in Central Africa


This paper recounts the autobiography of an evangelical pastor who has been under water to the land of demons, telling of cosmic flows of persons, power and wealth between times, places, and dimensions. Although it builds on stories circulating across Africa since colonial times, emphasising paradigms found throughout the occult economies literature, what is significant about this autobiography is that it relates the narrator’s own experience. This is important because, although these occult elements reference global processes, the narrative given is as much about the local as it is the global. Likewise, it as much spiritual as it is material or economic. Thus, my analysis goes beyond the occult economy or its material effects, instead demonstrating the ontological alterity and spiritual meaningfulness of such incursions and attempting to push the envelope of academic analyses and interpretations relating to the diverse complexity of African religious experiences.

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