African Divination Systems

African Divination Systems

Ways of Knowing
Edited by Philip M. Peek
Distribution: World
Publication date: 5/1/1991
Format: paper 240 pages, 10 b&w photos
ISBN: 978-0-253-20653-4
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Description

A Choice Outstanding Academic Book of 1991
“This volume of finely crafted case studies is also the vehicle for an important general theory of divination. . . . this is a book overflowing with ideas that will powerfully stimulate further research.” —Journal of Ritual Studies

“The essays in this collection provide a very useful overview of both the diversity of African divination systems and of recent approaches to their study.” —Choice

This unique collection of essays by an exceptional international group of Africanists demonstrates the central role that divination continues to play throughout Africa in maintaining cultural systems and in guiding human action. African Divination Systems offers insights for current discussions in comparative epistemology, cross-cultural psychology, cognition studies, semiotics, ethnoscience, religious studies, and anthropology.

Reviews

"The essays in this collection provide a very useful overview of both the diversity of African divination systems and of recent approaches to their study. The introduction critically reviews the preoccupations of earlier students of African divination. The essays that follow are divided into five sections that explore, in turn, the identity of the diviner; comparative and historical issues; the central role of divination in the articulation of cultural ideas, norms, and values within society; the making of knowledge through the divinatory process; and the integration of normal and nonnormal ways of knowing within the divination process. Although all of the essays provide rich ethnographic data, the essays in the fourth and fifth section are the most interesting from a theoretical perspective. They provide the clearest critique of previous positivist approaches to divination, which focus on the outcomes of the divinatory process while failing to appreciate the meanings and truths that inhere to, and are articulated by, the process itself. Of particular interest are the facinating articles by Rosalind Shaw and Philip Peek. Highly recommended for advanced undergraduates." —R. M. Packard, Tufts University , Choice , December 1991

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction
The Study of Divination, Present and Past
Philip M. Peek

Part One. Becoming a Diviner

The Initiation of a Zulu Diviner
Henry Callaway

Part Two. The Search for Knowledge

Nilotic Cosmology and the Divination of Atuot Philosophy
John W. Burton
Divination in Madagascar: The Antemoro Case and the
Diffusion of Divination
Pierre Verin and Narivelo Rajaonarimanana

Part Three. Cultural Systems within Divination Systems

Diviners as Alienists and Annunciators among the Batammaliba
of Togo
Rudolph Blier
Divination Among the Lobi of Burkina Faso
Piet Meyer
Divination and the Hunt in Pagibeti Ideology
Alden Almquist
Mediumistic Divination among the Northern Yaka of Zaire:
Etiology and Ways of Knowing
Rene Devisch

Part Four. Divination, Epistemology, and Truth

Splitting Truths from Darkness: Epistemological Aspects of
Temne Divination
Rosalind Shaw
Knowledge and Power in Nyole Divination
Susan Reynolds Whyte
Simultaneity and Sequencing in the Oracular Speech of
Kenyan Diviners
David Parkin

Part Five. Toward a New Approach to Divination

African Divination Systems: Non-Normal Modes of Cognition
Philip M. Peek


Afterword
James W. Fernandez
Contributors
Index