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Demanding from others: how ancestors and shamans govern opacity in the Kalahari

Laws, Megan ORCID: 0000-0002-7652-4279 (2021) Demanding from others: how ancestors and shamans govern opacity in the Kalahari. Ethnos. ISSN 0014-1844

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Identification Number: 10.1080/00141844.2021.2007156


Among Jú|’hoànsi in the northern Kalahari, there are differences in the way people address their suspicions about what others might be thinking or feeling – in other words, in the way people confront the opacity of other minds. Among friends, playful forms of mockery allow people to express their suspicions or ill-feelings directly, without the fear of causing harm. Among relatives, by contrast, suspicions and ill-feelings are typically concealed. While people may talk about other minds when those minds are not around, they refrain from direct confrontation. To confront one’s relatives is to make them feel ‘pain in their hearts’, and to do so is to risk losing them to sickness or damaging enduring arrangements of care. Ancestors and shamans, who can see and hear more than others, play a crucial role here in governing opacity: exposing suspicions and ill-feelings when people feel they cannot speak of them.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2021 00:08
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2024 16:24

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