‘Fertile Disorder. Spirit possession and its Provocation of the modern’ by Kalpana Ram

Kalpana Ram presented his research entitled ‘Fertile Disorder. Spirit possession and its Provocation of the modern’ at the Sociological Research Colloquium.

When: Friday, 12th January 2018 at 3:00 p.m.

Where: Seminar Room (First Floor), Department of Sociology, University of Delhi 


In this presentation I will take up just one case study from my book of the same title (Fertile Disorder, 2013) of a woman’s negotiation of afflictions and the gradual emergence of powers as a spirit medium. Mediumship and possession have been fertile ground for some of the most creative strands of anthropological theory. Yet there is a pattern to the tensions that recur over representations of agency in relation to possession, and in the book, this pattern provides an opportunity to examine the philosophical underpinnings of the social sciences as well as feminist theory. In the paper I will examine two such areas, involving some examples taken from anthropological appropriations of performance theory and post-structuralist conceptions of performativity. The paper will end with methodological suggestions that will allow us to move away from a hermeneutics of suspicion towards religious cosmologies without necessarily being asked to ‘believe’ in spirits and ghosts.

Other Research Colloquiums