- Purchase/rental options available:
The past decade has witnessed a proliferation of incidents of mass possession among schoolgirls in Niger. Possession by revengeful spirits dramatizes the controversies surrounding women's education. During exorcism, possessing spirits speak of the homes they lost when trees were cut to build schools. Spirits were part of a sacred topography disrupted by the transformation of bushland into farmland, the shift toward individual property, and urban expansion. This essay centers on narratives of loss, displacement, subjection, and appropriation and the claims to knowledge about the past that these narratives authorize. By focusing on schools as staging grounds for historical reckoning, I consider how the possession of schoolgirls by vindictive spirits and the memory work sparked by these unsettling events constitute temporal tactics—subversive modes of unfolding time so as to retrieve forgotten histories while also reframing the present (and, by implication, the future) in relation to a past that continues to evolve.