A study of the West African Hauka - spirits that grotesquely mimic and mock "Europeans" of the colonial epoch. The author considers spirit possession as a set of embodied practices with serious social and cultural consequences. Embodying Colonial Memories is the first in-depth study of the West African Hauka, spirits in the body of (human) mediums which mimic and mock Europeans of the colonial epoch. Paul Stoller, who was initiated into a spirit possession troupe, recounts an insider's tale of the Hauka with respect and "brotherly" deference. He combines narrative description, historical analysis, and reflections on the importance of embodiment and mimesis to social theory, with particular reference to the Songhay peoples of the Republic of Niger.
Paul Stoller is Professor of Anthropology at West Chester University. He is the author of In Sorcery's Shadow (1987), Fusion of the Worlds (1989), The Taste of Ethnographic Things (1989) and The Cinematic Griot. He is currently conducting research among West African street vendors in New York City.
"...the book should be read for what the Haukas's fascinating history teaches us about the politics of possession and the aesthetics of power." -- Religious Studies Review
"This is learning in it's most fundamental form and it would be useful for us to consider the lessons that books such as Embodying Colonial Memories have for the creation of a more encompassing anthropology of education." -- Anthopology & Education Quarterly