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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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The World of the Spirits

The World of the Spirits

(p.115) Chapter V The World of the Spirits
The Possessed and the Dispossessed

Lesley A. Sharp

University of California Press

This chapter gives a general impression of what possession looks like, to provide an overview of the Sakalava world of the spirits. Tromba possession is the quintessence of Sakalava experience in religion. Throughout Madagascar, ancestors and other spirits are an important aspect of everyday life, yet no form of possession is more widespread than tromba. For the Sakalava, the spirit world is inhabited by royal and common ancestors, lost souls, nature spirits, and malicious, evil spirits. Tromba, as the spirits of dead Sakalava royalty, are the most significant and influential in terms of the daily interactions that occur between the living and the dead. As Richard Huntington has observed, the “royal ancestors belong, in one sense, to everyone,” and are regarded as “the national ancestors” of the Sakalava.

Keywords:   possession, Sakalava, world, spirits, tromba, religion, Madagascar, royalty, Richard Huntington

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