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Islamic exorcism and psychiatry: a film monograph

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.

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Tackling the urban through ethnography

, 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

in Realising the city

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 babywear. Others simply focused upon wife, mother and newborn child as

in Amateur film

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 anthropological and sociological approaches that deal with the power and structure of institutions, such as those outlined by Mary

in Using film as a source

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). 3 Nostalgia, invisible clothes and hidden motivations 3 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

in Exoticisation undressed
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Ethnography for a data-saturated world

data and ethnography The conversations that this book charts between digital data 3 and ethnography 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

in Ethnography for a data-saturated world
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

in The power of vulnerability

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

in Amateur film

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 and film 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

in Descending with angels
Domesticating the documentary archive

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

in Spanish cinema 1973–2010