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The Possessed and the DispossessedSpirits, Identity, and Power in a Madagascar Migrant Town$
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Lesley Sharp

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780520080010

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520080010.001.0001

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Exorcising the Spirits

Exorcising the Spirits

The Alternative Therapeutics of Protestantism1

(p.245) Chapter X Exorcising the Spirits
The Possessed and the Dispossessed

Lesley A. Sharp

University of California Press

This chapter discusses an alternative form of healing offered by an unusual group of vahiny in northwest Madagascar. Protestantism and exorcists serve as a final option in a locally conceived hierarchy of resort, especially for problems associated with spirit possession and madness. A wide array of indigenous practitioners (including tromba, kalanoro, moasy, mpisikidy) play key roles in diagnosing and treating the symptoms associated with these categories of experience. However, if their repeated efforts fail to improve the health status of a patient, she may seek treatment from other healers whose training is derived from nonindigenous sources. Two factors account for this reluctance on the part of Sakalava patients and their kin to consult with Protestant exorcists. First, ethnic factionalism is key. Second, Protestants embrace a competing view of reality and, more specifically, of possession. Since they consider tromba spirits to be evil, few Sakalava are willing to seek out their treatments.

Keywords:   healing, vahiny, Madagascar, Protestantism, exorcists, spirit, possession, Sakalava, factionalism, tromba

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