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.
, Scheper-Hughes’ seminal
text Death Without Weeping provides a harrowing account of people’s life in
a Brazilian urban slum (Scheper-Hughes 1992); Kleinman, et al. write about
urban violence as ‘social suffering’ (Kleinman, et al. 1997); Bourgois shares
experiences of selling crack in inner-city America (Bourgois 2003). Many
anthropologists now practise ethnography in cities alongside other disciplines
(See Low 1999 for a summary). Ethnographic work by visual anthropologists has brought images, film, sound and sketches together with text-based
Camilla Lewis and Jessica
amateur equipment. Occasionally, a family
friend documented the new arrival and, during early visits to hospital or
nursing home, captured on camera the emerging roles of both parents. 4 A filmmaker’s emotional
distance or visual interests affected such filming as seen, for instance, in
shots to outside views, staff or details of bedside flowers, clock or
simply focused upon wife, mother and newborn child as
commonalities of visual style, of production and
of personnel. Similarly, what begins as an exploration of the work of
Jean-Luc Godard could extend into debates about high and low culture
in France, drawing on the theoretical writings of the Frankfurt School.
If your work begins as the study of a film industry in a particular period,
you may find that, as well as understanding the economic determinants
of any given period, you are also drawing on anthropologicaland
sociological approaches that deal with the power and structure of
institutions, such as those outlined by Mary
communities – including the anthropological community – we can find those who deploy
the nostalgic evocation of a former Golden Age ‘as a stick to beat the present’ (R.
Williams 1973: 12).
Nostalgia, invisible clothes and hidden motivations
The particular nostalgia that led me to write this book shares elements of the
essentialisms Rosaldo and Herzfeld try to expose. ‘Imperialist nostalgia’ unravels
a static, ‘allochronic’ view of cultural difference (Fabian 1983), which substantiates sentimental pessimism (Sahlins 2000) or motivates a desire to salvage ‘ethnography’s
The conversations that this book charts between digital data 3 andethnography offer, we suggest, a fresh terrain in which to ask questions
about the social production of knowledge. However, the question of
how to combine data-oriented and qualitative approaches in ethnographic research is not new.4 Anthropologists have, since at least the
1960s, periodically turned to the possibilities that computation might
hold for assisting with anthropological analysis. Gregory Bateson and
Margaret Mead’s forays into cybernetics as a method for analysing
Translatina world-making in The Salt Mines and Wildness
color] in the form of spectatorial sympathy’ (2016: 124). The films put these
women’s suffering on display but refuse to consider them as historical agents
or experts in anything beyond their own personal experience. These audio-
visual media strategies are part of the broader ‘extraction of value from trans
of color lives through biopolitical and necropolitics technologies’ that trans
scholars C. Riley Snorton and Jin Haritaworn have described (2013: 71).
The unequal distribution of economic resources and social capital have
long put creative control of trans
formal portrayals of workplace relations.
Following Horses … is neither sophisticated nor
exceptional. It typifies how enthusiasts tried out new visual techniques and
tricks as they filmed to entertain friends and local people. It highlights
how the presence of a cine-camera influenced people’s behaviour in
workplace settings, and cautions us about using visual sources uncritically as proof of
past reality. Despite its artifice
provoked a debate about the extent to which it is possible, necessary, or even desirable to believe in such peculiar visual displays, or whether they could in fact be make-believe on the part of either jinn, patient, shaykh, or filmmaker.
In anthropology, similar debates have occurred over the questionable value of photographic images andfilm in providing a window into unseen realities (Marcus 1994 ; Weiner 1997 ; MacDougall 1998 ; Henley 2006 ; Kiener 2008 ; Suhr and Willerslev 2012; 2013 ). As mentioned in Chapter 1 , Hastrup ( 1992
supone el colmo de su técnica de cámara’ [This era
marked the high point in her camera technique], he informs us.
As deployed in A Glimpse, Andreu’s travel films
effectively straddle the boundary between home movies, with their emphasis
on the pleasure to be derived from seeing familiar faces in new and
unfamiliar settings, and the early amateur ethnographies characterised by
Zimmerman as a cross between ‘ingenuous anthropology