What is it like to be a Muslim possessed by a jinn spirit? How do you find refuge
from madness and evil spirits in a place like Denmark? As elsewhere in
Europe and North America, Danish Muslims have become hypervisible through
intensive state monitoring, surveillance, and media coverage. Yet their religion
remains poorly understood and is frequently identified by politicians,
commentators, and even healthcare specialists as the underlying invisible cause
of ‘integration problems’. Over several years Christian Suhr followed
Muslim patients being treated in a Danish mosque and in a psychiatric hospital.
With this book and award-winning film he provides a unique account of the
invisible dynamics of possession and psychosis, and an analysis of how the
bodies and souls of Muslim patients are shaped by the conflicting demands of
Islam and the psychiatric institutions of European nation-states. The book
reveals how both psychiatric and Islamic healing work not only to produce relief
from pain, but also entail an ethical transformation of the patient and the
cultivation of religious and secular values through the experience of pain.
Creatively exploring the analytic possibilities provided by the use of a camera,
both text and film show how disruptive ritual techniques are used in healing to
destabilise individual perceptions and experiences of agency, so as to allow
patients to submit to the invisible powers of psychotropic medicine or God.
academics and practitioners working in higher
education were busy reconceptualising what was meant by acting and arguing
for a more expansive approach to performance. Famously, for Richard
Schechner ‘performance’ became a kind of umbrella term, covering
not only ‘theatre, dance, music and performance art’, but also
‘a broad spectrum of activities including at the very least the
performing arts, rituals, healing, sports, popular
as intermediary between the people and
God’, in Z. Hawass and L. Pinch Brock (eds.), Egyptology at the Dawn of the TwentyFirst Century, II (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press), 221–9.
Gardiner, A. (1902), ‘Imhotep and the scribe’s libation’, Zeitschrift für ägyptische Sprache
und Altertumskunde 40, 146.
Gee, J. (1998), ‘The Requirements of Ritual Purity in Ancient Egypt’ (PhD dissertation, Yale University).
Gorrini, M.E. (2012), ‘Healing statues in the Greek and Roman world’, in I. Csepregi
and C. Burnett (eds.), RitualHealing: Magic, Ritual and Medical
Noelle M.K.Y. Kahanu, Moana Nepia and Philipp Schorch
who was being ministered to, or why. My grandfather, George
Hawae Kahanu, Sr, even into his nineties could still recall feeling the spirits
that would pass through him as he became the focus of this ritualhealing.
In this traditional practice of noho, I also see a connection to the role that
many curators carry out. In its medieval Latin context, a curatus cured
or tended to the souls of those within his parish, but, in a contemporary
museum context, the curator has become the custodian or guardian of a
He alo aˉ he alo / kanohi ki te kanohi
that it is the ‘man of the house’ who suffers despite the fact that he has
exhibited more kindness towards the Travellers than his wife:
‘Do something for him’, the Virgin Mother said to Our Saviour,
praise be to her always.
‘I won’t’, says he. ‘The man is alright’, says he.
She asked him again to do something for him.
‘I won’t’, says he. ‘The man is alright and his wife doesn’t deserve it.
You do it’, says he to the mother, great praise be to her forever.
(Iml. 1150: 24)
Jesus and Mary as depicted in Ortha an Ghreama use both inversion
and a form of ritualhealing