Exorcizing the spirit of Protestantism: ambiguity and spirit possession in an Ethiopian Orthodox ritual

Malara, D. M. (2021) Exorcizing the spirit of Protestantism: ambiguity and spirit possession in an Ethiopian Orthodox ritual. Ethnos, (doi: 10.1080/00141844.2019.1631871) (Early Online Publication)

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This article discusses the exorcism of Protestant spirits from Ethiopian Orthodox hosts in Addis Ababa. This controversial ritual is animated by injunctions to draw essential distinctions and boundaries between Protestantism and Orthodoxy, at a time of religious liberalisation. The expulsion of Protestant spirits provides an occasion to reaffirm the centrality of local Orthodoxy to Ethiopian identity, construing Protestantism as a foreign religion at odds with the country’s ancient Orthodox history. However, this ritual project is marked by profound ambiguities, as exorcism’s means, aesthetics and themes are suspiciously similar to those characteristic of Protestantism. By foregrounding ritual ambiguity, I argue that exorcism publically exposes and vividly magnifies the irreparable permeability of the very inter-religious boundaries that it seeks to demarcate. In contrast to classic understandings of ritual as an ordering process, exorcism rituals become hazardous events that balance uncertainly on the edge of the ever-present risk of becoming the other.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Early Online Publication
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Malara, Dr Diego Maria
Authors: Malara, D. M.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:Ethnos
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN (Online):1469-588X
Published Online:09 December 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
First Published:First published in Ethnos 2020
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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