1st Edition

Domestic Demons and the Intimate Uncanny

Edited By Thomas G. Kirsch, Kirsten Mahlke, Rijk van Dijk Copyright 2023
    220 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    220 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores local cultural discourses and practices relating to manifestations and experiences of the demonic, the spectral and the uncanny, probing into their effects on people’s domestic and intimate spheres of life. The chapters examine the uncanny in a cross-cultural manner, involving empirically rich case studies from sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Europe. They use an interdisciplinary and comparative approach to show how people are affected by their intimate interactions with spiritual beings. While several chapters focus on the tensions between public and private spheres that emerge in the context of spiritual encounters, others explore what kind of relationships between humans and demonic entities are imagined to exist and in what ways these imaginations can be interpreted as a commentary on people’s concerns and social realities. Offering a critical look at a form of spiritual experience that often lacks academic examination, this book will be of great use to scholars of Religious Studies who are interested in the occult and paranormal, as well as academics working in Anthropology, Sociology, African Studies, Latin American Studies, Gender Studies and Transcultural Psychology.

    1 Introduction: Hedging in Demons and the Uncanny

    Thomas G. Kirsch, Kirsten Mahlke, and Rijk van Dijk

    2 The Familiar Spirit in Tales of Violent Labor Relationships: From Early Modern France to Agro-Industrial Argentina

    Kirsten Mahlke

    3 Collective Intimacy in Pentecostal Christianity

    Thomas G. Kirsch

    4 Science, Fantasy, and Desecration: Gorilla Demons in Colonial Gabon

    Florence Bernault

    5 From Witchcraft to Satanism: Changing Imaginations and New Experiences in the South African Lowveld

    Isak Niehaus

    6 Is Digital Memory Our New Demon? Notes on Surveillance and Vulnerability

    Silvana Mandolessi

    7 Marriage and the Ambiguities of ‘Seeds’: An Exploration of Intentions and Transparency in Relations in Botswana

    Rijk van Dijk and Senzokuhle Doreen Setume

    8 Zombies in the House: Thinking through the Spaces of Undead Transatlantic History

    Gudrun Rath

    9 Hedging in the Demonic: Living with the Dead in the United States

    Ehler Voss

    10 Afterword: Uncanny Modernities, Early and Late

    Jean Comaroff


    Thomas G. Kirsch is Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Konstanz, Germany.

    Kirsten Mahlke is Professor of Cultural Theory at the Department of Literature at the University of Konstanz, Germany.

    Rijk van Dijk is Professor of Religion in Contemporary Africa and its Diaspora at the African Studies Centre Leiden, Leiden University, the Netherlands.