The Mind Possessed: The Cognition of Spirit Possession in an Afro-Brazilian Religious Tradition (Paperback)Emma E. A. Cohen (author)
Paperback 256 Pages / Published: 08/12/2011
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The cognitive science of religion has made a persuasive case for the view that a number of different psychological systems are involved in the construction and transmission of notions of extranatural agency such as deities and spirits. Until now this work has been based largely on findings in experimental psychology, illustrated mainly with hypothetical or anecdotal examples. In The Mind Possessed, Emma Cohen considers how the psychological systems undergirding spirit concepts are activated in real-world settings. Spirit possession practices have long had a magnetizing effect on academic researchers but there have been few, if any, satisfactory theoretical treatments of spirit possession that attempt to account for its emergence and spread globally. 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 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. 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.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 380 g
Dimensions: 235 x 157 x 14 mm
Who is dancing before me: my neighbor or a powerful spirit? Where do minds go when the body is occupied by someone else? The Mind Possessed details the colorfulness of spirit possession while rendering it understandable. This gracefully written book potently models how the cognitive sciences should impact the study of culture and religion. Cohen demonstrates that a sophisticated understanding of human minds enriches anthropology and religious studies with scientific insights. Simultaneously she shows that careful ethnography can highlight questions for psychological sciences that might otherwise go unnoticed, in this case, complex issues concerning human minds and bodies. * Justin L. Barrett, Senior Researcher, Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxford, author of Why Would Anyone Believe in God?The Mind Possessed is an extraordinary accomplishment. Drawing on her fieldwork in Brazil, Emma Cohen explores the fascinating phenomena of spirit possession-the belief in, *
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