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Refworks Account Login. Open Collections. UBC Theses and Dissertations. Featured Collection. Parallel worlds : humans, spirits, and ZAR possession in rural northern Sudan. Boddy, Janice Patricia. This thesis concerns the cultural meanings of zar spirit possession in Hofriyat, a Northern Sudanese village. It begins with an interpretive analysis of the Hofriyati everyday world, showing village kinship, marriage, and prevalent customs such as female circumcision to be informed by a common idiom: "interiority" or relative enclosure.
In Part II it proceeds to discuss, in terms of that idiom, contexts in which the possession idiom might be invoked: who claims to be possessed, and under what conditions. Here it emerges that zar possession plays an important role in the negotiation and renegotiation of meaning by "rephrasing" interpersonal conflict, symbolically restructuring certain life experiences for the Hofriyati, and effecting realignments of kin relations and social positions in ways deemed favorable to the possessed.
Next comes a comparison of the zar propitiation ritual and the local wedding ceremony, in which zar is seen to operate as a meta-cultural text, a comment upon the realities of everyday life and the informative idiom of village culture. This idea is carried forward into Part III, where the system of zar beliefs and spirit manifestations is discussed in its own right.
Here possession is viewed as an esthetic form and ' potential messages to be derived from the identities and associations of the spirits are considered. In sum, this thesis is an attempt to describe Hofriyati cultural meanings — the logic of everyday life, its negotiation through acknowledgement of possession affliction, and its secondary or meta-cultural elaboration in ritual and in the system of zar beliefs.
It draws principally upon the works of symbolic anthropologists such as Geertz, Turner, and Crapanzano, and upon the insights of Paul Ricoeur for theoretical guidance. However, the "theory of Hofriyati culture" which emerges in the dissertation is understood to be the result of interactions between the researcher and her Hofriyati informants.