in The Power of the Between

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780226775340
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226775364 | DOI:

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This chapter details the author's first-hand encounter with sorcery in Niger in the form of a “sickness” sent by jealous rivals, which forced him to return to the United States. His confrontation with “sickness” convinced him that sorcery is much like gunfighting in Hollywood westerns. Gunfighters practiced and dueled to become “the fastest gun in the West,” which meant that their very presence injected fear—and respect—into any atmosphere. Gunfighters, like sorcerers, felt no sense of morality. They felt little or no remorse about the people they wounded or killed on their way to the top. Being top gun, though, seemed a mixed blessing. Out of fear, people paid them considerable deference. By the same token a skillful challenger could at any moment propose a gunfight, which could result in the top gun's death. In worlds of sorcery, there were “top guns” who were being continuously challenged—often with mortal consequences. Despite the power of the author's own weapons (potions, power objects, and the genji how), he possessed neither the stamina nor the psychological wherewithal to continue his pursuit of sorcery.

Keywords: Niger; sorcery; sickness

Chapter.  3861 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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