Healing with spirits and the formation of Muslim selfhood in post-Soviet Uzbekistan

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Abstract

Since Uzbekistan gained its independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Islam has re-entered the public sphere and people there have joined the rest of the Muslim world in contemplating reflexively what it means to be Muslim. This article explores this process in the context of healing practices involving spirit agency. It argues that this form of healing, as an imaginal encounter with spirit agents, constitutes a particular mode of access to divine knowledge and power through which people validate their own particular concepts of Muslim selfhood. It explores how the content of these encounters and the cosmology invoked by healers are changing in response to the increasing influence of scripturalist interpretations of Islam, and how healing practice is interpreted through social interaction within the healers' communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-393
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006

Keywords

  • Islam
  • possession
  • gender

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