Title: Beyond expertise: reflections on specialist agency and the autonomy of the divinatory ritual process
Authors: Graw, Knut # ×
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: Edinburgh univ press
Series Title: Africa vol:79 issue:1 pages:92-109
Abstract: Recent anthropological studies of divination have been marked by renewed and appreciative concern for the epistemological and performative dimensions of divination. Pursuing these recent investigations, and especially their interest in the nature of the knowledge and modes of knowing underlying divinatory ritual, the first part of the article attempts an understanding of the interpretative operations and modalities of knowledge involved in different forms of divination practised in Senegal and Gambia today. At the same time, and somewhat antithetically, it will be argued that the focus on the question of the cognitive nature of divinatory knowledge and the person of the diviner may also be problematic: it may lead to undervaluing the main quality of divination, which lies perhaps not in its cognitive but its consultational properties. Further decentring its initial cognitive outlook, the second part of the article addresses the question of how to understand the fact that within the divinatory discourse itself it is not the diviner but the divinatory apparatus that is being addressed as the source of enunciation. Where, if not in the person of the diviner, is the source of the knowledge underlying and resulting from divinatory procedure to be located? And in how far is it possible, as the title of this article suggests, to conceive of the divinatory process as being autonomous of the expertise and specialist agency of the individual diviner?
ISSN: 0001-9720
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Institute for Anthropological Research in Africa
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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