“Amidst troubled times for West African states, understanding how ordinary citizens struggle for meaningful, effective governance and security is more important than ever. In this fine book, Hellweg offers us a richly textured account of one such struggle orchestrated by an Ivorian hunters’ movement that connects the spiritual and the mundane, personal and institutional power, and the ‘traditional’ and the thoroughly modern in highly creative ways. Movements like Benkadi—beyond their success or otherwise in securing particular political outcomes—reveal the vitality of political cultures and governance processes in which non-state actors are central. A powerful antidote to top-down, state-centric accounts, this book should be read by anyone interested in the real workings of politics and society in West Africa today.”
(Melissa Leach, University of Sussex)
“The dozo hunting societies of northern Côte d’Ivoire have frequently been a source of double tension: between Islam and indigenous culture within their home area and between that entire region and the economically dominant Christian south. In a rich blend of ethnography, performance analysis, and political history, Joseph Hellweg both illuminates these antagonisms and also indicates how, in significant moments of transcendence, the hunters provide a local model for national reconciliation.”
(Ralph Austen, University of Chicago)
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About the Author
Joseph Hellweg is assistant professor of religion at Florida State University.