The Mind Possessed: The Cognition of Spirit Possession in an Afro-Brazilian Religious Tradition

Spirits and Trance in Brazil
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The author takes a novel approach to fieldwork, conducting research in four different contexts: Spirit possession has often been portrayed as a subaltern practice: Several anthropological approaches are applied to this phenomenon. Schmidt presents a structured discussion of the various theoretical positions, and how the debates on the subject have changed over time. She does not, however, fall into the trap of presenting the development of the field as a strict evolutionary trajectory, advancing towards some ideal end-point, but rather as an ongoing dialogue.

The author postulates that these diverse approaches may be integrated—if one views them as the product of a specific time, place, and religious context.

Marajó Fieldsite in Brazil

This theme is further developed in the examination of the various literatures on religious experience. While generally amenable to these approaches, Schmidt emphasises that experiences of the divine are often ineffable, and cannot readily be integrated into more general, cross-cultural categories. Schmidt characterises the cognitive approach as dismissive of subjective experience—a portrayal unwarranted by much of the work in the field. The Mind Possessed examines spirit concepts and mediumistic practices from a cognitive scientific perspective.

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The book develops a novel theoretical approach to questions that are of central importance to the scientific study of transmission of The book develops a novel theoretical approach to questions that are of central importance to the scientific study of transmission of culture, particularly concepts of spirits, spirit healing, and spirit possession.

Making a radical departure from established anthropological, medicalist, and sociological analyses of spirit phenomena, the book looks instead to instructive insights from the cognitive sciences and offers a set of testable hypotheses concerning the spread and appeal of spirit concepts and possession activities. Predictions and claims are grounded in the data collected and sourced in specific ethnographic contexts.

The data presented open new lines of enquiry for the cognitive science of religion a rapidly growing field of interdisciplinary scholarship and challenge the existing but outdated theoretical frameworks within which spirit possession practices have traditionally been understood.

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Publications Pages Publications Pages. Many women earn a living as domestic maids in wealthier households, or by selling handmade craftwork, such as jewellery, crochet garments, or as manicurists. University of North Carolina Press. The Cognition of Spirit Possession in an Afro-Brazilian Religious Tradition , Oxford University Press, , about third-party perceptions of spirit possession as instead regarding the propensity for individual mediums to become possessed. It is time to know what Trump knows. ComiXology Thousands of Digital Comics. Drawing on ethnographic data collected during eighteen months of fieldwork in Belem, northern Brazil, Cohen combines fine-grained descriptions and analyses of mediumistic activities in an Afro-Brazilian cult house with a scientifically-grounded explanation for the emergence and spread of ideas about spirits, possession and healing.

Cohen, author University of Oxford Author Webpage. Don't have an account? Cohen shows why spirit possession and its associated activities are inherently attention-grabbing. Making a radical departure from traditional anthropological, medicalist, and sociological analyses, she argues that a cognitive approach offers more precise and testable hypotheses concerning the spread and appeal of spirit concepts and possession activities.

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This timely book presents new lines of enquiry for the cognitive science of religion a rapidly growing field of interdisciplinary scholarship and challenges the theoretical frameworks within which spirit possession practices have traditionally been understood. Read more Read less.

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