1st Edition

Ritual Servitudes and Christian Social Practices in Ghana The Hidden Spaces of Otherness in Religion

By David Stiles-Ocran Copyright 2023
    218 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores the kinds of Christian service or diaconia that develop in non-institutionalized practices for supporting survivors of indigenous ritual servitude or Trokosi in Africa. Drawing on empirical research from Ghana, it examines the possibilities of freedom, equality, and dignity for liberated Trokosi and the manner in which these women’s experiences constitute a repudiation of dominant patriarchal family systems. With close attention to the work of indigenous parachurches – which function outside of institutionalized churches – in challenging the contemporary practice of ritual slavery and offering its survivors a lived space in which they need not remain “hidden” as they seek restoration and integration into wider society, Ritual Servitudes and Christian Social Practices in Ghana will appeal to scholars of sociology, theology, and religion with interests in gender, contemporary ministries and African religion.

    List of Figures

    The Preamble


    PART I

    Framework, Religion, and Theology

    1 The Construction

    2 Religion, Space, and Slavery in Context

    3 History and Theology of Christian Social Ministry in Context

    PART 2

    Methods and Empirical Data

    4 Diaconal Methodology: Entry and In-Field Research Experience

    5 Narratives by Liberators, Gatekeepers, and Survivors of Ritual Servitudes

    PART 3

    Theories and Interpretations

    6 The Theory of Heterotopia and the Trokosi Shrines as Sacred Spaces

    7 Trokosi Women’s Body-Spaces as Heterotopia: Spatial Deconstruction and Reconstruction

    8 Liberating Heterotopic Diakonia: A Contextual Approach to Christian Social Practice

    9 Free Indeed! Ritual Servitude and Christian Social Practice as Religion and Development Praxis



    David Stiles-Ocran is an affiliated researcher in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Oslo, Norway.