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Anthropology Colloquium: Conerly Casey

Friday, February 9, 2018 at 3:00pm to 4:30pm

McGraw Hall, 215
740-750 University Ave, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

Sensing Corruption:  A Politics of Eco-Intimacy and Spirit Exorcism in Nigeria          

Conerly Casey, PhD

Society for the Humanities, Fellow

Cornell University

A fervent politics of the senses sparked off in northern Nigeria, when, in 1995, more than 600 Muslim secondary school girls became possessed by spirits, with the new sign of “dancing like they do in Indian film.” Spirit possession in this Bollywood form spread across northern states, co-evolving with a meningitis epidemic as it swept through the desert to kill thousands. This talk traces the emergent eco-intimacies and resonant politics of the senses as Qur’anic scholar-healers linked these events, via assertions of ontological power in the sensory geographic and affective-material movements of humans, spirits and pathogens. Funded by Salafi organizations in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, the Sudan and England, Qur’anic scholar-healers converted hundreds of humans and spirits to their forms of “orthodoxy” before expelling spirits from their human hosts. But, the multiplicity of eco-intimacies, and affective senses of corruption and care, did not align with any singular spiritual-political position, eliciting new spirit-human possibilities, ongoing debates over appropriate spirit-human relations, and double binds in the sensory politics of medicine and state.


This event is co-sponsored by Africana Studies and Research Center.  Thank you. 


Conerly Casey is Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

She has extensive ethnographic experience with young Muslims in northern Nigeria and Kuwait in broad areas of health and healing, conflict and violence, and mediated affect and emotion.

Her present research evaluates the sensory politics and mediated affects of violent sensorial, such as the sights, sounds, and movements of war, on memory and emotion.

Recent publications include: “Remembering and Ill Health in Post-invasion Kuwait: Topographies, Collaborations, Mediations” in Genocide and Mass Violence: Memory, Symptom and Recovery, eds. Devon Emerson Hinton and Alexander Laban Hinton (Cambridge University Press, 2015), “The Art of Suffering: Postcolonial (Mis) Apprehensions of Nigerian Art” in Suffering, Art and Aesthetics, eds., Ratiba Hadj-Moussa and Michael Nijhawan (Palgrave Macmillan 2014), and ““States of Emergency”: Armed Youths and Mediations of Islam in Northern Nigeria” in Journal of International and Global Studies 5 (February 2014), republished in Déjà Lu Journal (World Council of Anthropological Associations 2016). She also edited, with Robert B. Edgerton, Companion to Psychological Anthropology: Modernity and Psychocultural Change (Blackwell Publishers, 2005), which received a Choice Magazine Outstanding Book Award.

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cascal, anthro, cashum

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Liz Kirk

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Conerly Casey

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Rochester Institute of Technology


a reception will follow the talk

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free and open to the public

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