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The Dancing DeadRitual and Religion among the Kapsiki/Higi of North Cameroon and Northeastern Nigeria$
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Walter E. A. van Beek

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199858149

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199858149.001.0001

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Understanding African Ritual

Understanding African Ritual

(p.9) 2 Understanding African Ritual
The Dancing Dead

Walter E. A. van Beek

Oxford University Press

Starting with the author’s own appreciation of Kapsiki country, this chapter outlines the general approach of the book into African ritual. The Western appreciation of landscape is contrasted with Tim Ingold’s notion of “dwelling,” which highlights a complicated, historically informed, and multifaceted relationship of the group with its environment. The text then goes into ritual theory, addressing the question of how people attribute meaning to acts which have been emptied of overt meaning. The answer to this question, one of agent signification, is linked with an approach to symbolism based on Victor Turner, among others. In so doing the chapter develops an additional angle into the dynamics of an ‘”imagistic religion”—in the terms of Harvey Whitehouse’s modes of religiosity theory—such as Kapsiki/Higi religion.

Keywords:   dwelling, imagistic, symbol, theory, ritual, counterintuitive, meaning

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