Suspect Others: Spirit Mediums, Self-Knowledge, and Race in Multiethnic Suriname

By Stuart Earle Strange

© 2021

Suspect Others explores how ideas of self-knowledge and identity arise from a unique set of rituals in Suriname, a postcolonial Caribbean nation rife with racial and religious suspicion. Amid competition for belonging, political power, and control over natural resources, Surinamese Ndyuka Maroons and Hindus look to spirit mediums to understand the causes of their successes and sufferings and to know the hidden minds of relatives and rivals alike. But although mediumship promises knowledge of others, interactions between mediums and their devotees also fundamentally challenge what devotees know about themselves, thereby turning interpersonal suspicion into doubts about the self.

Through a rich ethnographic comparison of the different ways in which Ndyuka and Hindu spirit mediums and their devotees navigate suspicion, Suspect Others shows how present-day Caribbean peoples come to experience selves that defy concepts of personhood inflicted by the colonial past. Stuart Earle Strange investigates key questions about the nature of self-knowledge, religious revelation, and racial discourse in a hyper-diverse society. At a moment when exclusionary suspicions dominate global politics, Suspect Others elucidates self-identity as a social process that emerges from the paradoxical ways in which people must look to others to know themselves.

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Product Details

  • Series: Anthropological Horizons
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 264 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
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Quick Overview

This ethnography considers how spirit mediums interactively create self-knowledge out of interpersonal suspicion in the racially and religious diverse Caribbean country of Suriname.

Suspect Others: Spirit Mediums, Self-Knowledge, and Race in Multiethnic Suriname

By Stuart Earle Strange

© 2021

Suspect Others explores how ideas of self-knowledge and identity arise from a unique set of rituals in Suriname, a postcolonial Caribbean nation rife with racial and religious suspicion. Amid competition for belonging, political power, and control over natural resources, Surinamese Ndyuka Maroons and Hindus look to spirit mediums to understand the causes of their successes and sufferings and to know the hidden minds of relatives and rivals alike. But although mediumship promises knowledge of others, interactions between mediums and their devotees also fundamentally challenge what devotees know about themselves, thereby turning interpersonal suspicion into doubts about the self.

Through a rich ethnographic comparison of the different ways in which Ndyuka and Hindu spirit mediums and their devotees navigate suspicion, Suspect Others shows how present-day Caribbean peoples come to experience selves that defy concepts of personhood inflicted by the colonial past. Stuart Earle Strange investigates key questions about the nature of self-knowledge, religious revelation, and racial discourse in a hyper-diverse society. At a moment when exclusionary suspicions dominate global politics, Suspect Others elucidates self-identity as a social process that emerges from the paradoxical ways in which people must look to others to know themselves.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Anthropological Horizons
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 264 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    Suspect Others explores the ethnically and religiously complex world of Suriname, where seeking the revelations of mediums is common practice. Focusing on Maroon and Hindu communities and the mediums who serve them, Strange considers what mediumship reveals about the uncertainties that pervade Surinamese social life, arguing that client suspicions about others produces knowledge of the self. This book is a welcome addition to the literature on Caribbean religions and on Maroon and Indo-Caribbean communities.”

    Aisha Khan, Associate Professor of Anthropology, New York University and author of The Deepest Dye: Obeah, Hosay, and Race in the Atlantic World

  • Author Information

    Stuart Earle Strange is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Yale-NUS College.
  • Table of contents

    Acknowledgements
    Introduction
    1.Settlement and Self-Doubt
    2.A Fragmented Unity: Hindu Selves, Doubt, and Shakti Ritual
    3.Mediated Selves: Ndyuka Knowledge, Suspicion, and Revelation
    4.Painful Interactions
    5.Dreams at the Limits of Knowledge
    6.Revealing Ironies of Racecraft
    Conclusion
    Bibliography

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