Cover

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Half Title, Series Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xvi

The work of the ethnographer involves inhabiting the spaces in between, the intersections among people, places, institutions, and cultures. Hence, any ethnographic endeavor encompasses contributions from many people who directly and indirectly impart their experiences, insights, and practices. This book is the outcome of nearly ten years of being in the presence of others ...

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Introduction

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pp. 3-20

After a long day spent at the rural home of a local Nankani family, I returned to Sirigu, a small village in the Upper East Region of Ghana. Two of my assistants, Matthew, a primary school teacher, and Elijah, a local nongovernmental organization (NGO) social worker, abruptly stopped me in the market as I was passing through. ...

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1. Contextualizing Infanticide and Northern Ghana

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pp. 21-40

Infanticide is more common than people imagine. Studies indicate that roughly 80 percent of societies have practiced infanticide at some point in time (Lancy 2008, 86). A survey of sixty societies indicated that infanticide is present in thirty-nine (Daly and Wilson 1984, 490), although the numbers are likely higher due to imperatives to hide practices or the fact that ethnographers ...

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2. For the House

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pp. 41-60

The use of house to refer to one’s family and clan is common through Africa (Gottlieb 1992, 50). The Nankani house is symbolic of greater family social relations. The “house” ( yire) is not only the physical space of several rooms enclosed by a compound wall wherein the family lives, but it also signifies its immediate and extended patrilineal family system. ...

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3. For the Bush

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pp. 61-79

The bush (mu’o) is at once a physical location, an imaginative space, and a state of being. Connotations common to the bush include notions of power, disorder, or pollution, rendering it at once a dangerous, disorienting, and an often-potent space of transformation. The Nankani are generally interested in keeping the bush and its associations separate from the social word of the house. ...

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4. Spirit Child Behavior and Causation

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pp. 80-103

I accompanied Joe from AfriKids and a community health nurse on a visit to a sick three-year-old girl named Azuma, her mother Abiiro, and their extended family. Joe had concerns not only about Azuma’s poor health but also that the family suspected her of being a spirit child. From Joe’s perspective, Azuma was at risk due to her medical condition and the chance that family members would administer to her a deadly poisonous concoction. ...

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5. Detection and Decision-Making

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pp. 104-120

The presence of abnormalities and misfortune alone is insufficient to confirm the existence of a spirit child because humans cannot, in the words of one man, “see beyond the focal point” and into the spiritual side of reality. Families explore anomalies known to be indicative of a spirit child and attempt to glimpse what cannot be seen though additional tests or trials, divination sessions, and discussions with others. ...

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6. Concoctions and Concoction Men: Treating Spirit Children

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pp. 121-139

The concoction man, or dongodaana, is the ritual specialist with the power and authority to use the dongo to send spirit children back to the bush. It was late in the afternoon when Asaana and I met in the Sirigu marketplace to chat about his experiences as a concoction man. On market days, Asaana would have been sitting with a small group of men selling bundles of handmade rope ...

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7. Causing Death and Prolonging Lives

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pp. 140-159

In the introduction to this volume, I ended my discussion of N’ma’s case with Ayisoba telling me that her family was asking him to administer the concoction. Although Joe urged the family members to let her die on her own, they were convinced that N’ma was a spirit and wanted to take action. Roughly a week later, Elijah and I visited Ayisoba at his house to learn more about the outcome. ...

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8. Why Infanticide?: Sentiments and the Dynamics of Choice

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pp. 160-177

Esther was four years old when I first met her and her mother, Maria. Esther’s family suspected that she was a spirit child when she was a year old and living in the village, after cerebral spinal meningitis left her with brain damage. “It all started with something like a small headache, then a cold,” Maria told me. “It was midnight when the whole thing became serious.” ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 178-186

Paul was impressive. Sitting down on a nearby rock still hot from the afternoon sun, he proceeded to play his kɔlegɔ—a traditional two-stringed guitar made from a large calabash shell—like an expert. He sang songs about spirit children, urging people not to kill them and to accept children with abnormalities. The topic was close to home. ...

Notes

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pp. 187-190

References

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pp. 191-202

Index

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pp. 203-218

Further Series Titles

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