Body and Affect in the Intercultural Encounter
326 Pages
English
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Body and Affect in the Intercultural Encounter

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326 Pages
English

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The volume draws from René Devisch’s encounters with groups in southsaharan Africa, primarily. The author had the privilege to immerse himself, around the clock, in the Yakaphones’ activities and thoughts in southwest DR Congo from 1972 to 1974, and intermittently in Kinshasa’s shanty towns, from 1986 to 2003. The author first examines what sparked his choice to come to Congo, and then to pursue research among the Yakaphones in the borderland with Angola. He then invites us to follow the trajectory of his plural anthropological view on today’s multicentric world. It leads us to his praise for honorary doctor Jean-Marc Ela’s work. He then examines the proletarian outbursts of violence that rocked Congo’s major cities in 1991 and 1993. These can be read as a settling of scores with the disillusioning colonial and missionary modernisation, along with president Mobutu’s millenarian Popular Movement of the Revolution. Furthermore, after considering the morose reduction of a major Yaka dancing mask into a mere museum-bound curio in Antwerp, the book unravels the Yakaphones’ perspectives on spirits and sorcery’s threat. It also analyses their commitment to classical Bantu-African healing cults, along with their parallel consulting physicians and healers. By sharing the Yakaphones’ life-world, the analysis highlights their body-group-world weave, interlaced by the principle of co-resonance. A phenomenological and perspectivist look unfolds the local actors’ views, thereby disclosing the Bantu-African genius and setting for a major reversal of perspectives. Indeed, seeing 'here' from 'there' allows the author to uncover some alienating dynamics at work in his native Belgian Flemish-speaking culture. To better grasp the realm of life beyond the speakable and factual reasoning, the approach occasionally turns to the later Lacan’s focus on the unconscious desire, the body and its affects. The book addresses students and researchers in the humanities and, more broadly, all those immersed in the heat of the encounter with the culturally different.

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Published 17 December 2017
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EAN13 9789956764280
Language English
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Body and Affect in the Intercultural Encounter
René Devisch
Body and affect in the intercultural encounter
Langaa & African Studies centre
Body and affect
in the intercultural encounter
René Devisch
Langaa Research and Publishing Common Initiative Group PO Box 902 Mankon Bamenda North West Region Cameroon Phone +237 33 07 34 69 / 33 36 14 02 LangaaGrp@gmail.com http://www.langaa-rpcig.net www.africanbookscollective.com/publishers/langaa-rpcig
African Studies Centre P.O. Box 9555 2300 RB Leiden The Netherlands asc@ascleiden.nl http://www.ascleiden.nl
ISBN-10: 9956-764-01-9 ISBN-13: 978-9956-764-01-3
© Langaa & African Studies Centre, 2017
Contents
Acknowledgements .................................................................................................ix Plates ....................................................................................................................xi Preface, Koen Stroeken ........................................................................................xv
1. Introduction: the co-implication of anthropologists and their hosts ...........................................................................1
The book and this chapter ......................................................................... 1 The intercultural encounter: perspectives and challenges ...................... 3 The anthropologist and the host groups ........................................................5 Feeling affected and questioned .....................................................................9 Ethical commitment and shared humanity .................................................12 The Yakaphone people ..............................................................................18 Reciprocal anthropology and innovative research ............................... 24 Reversal of perspective: seeing here from there ............................................24 The body-group-world weave .....................................................................31 Towards an ontology of resonance and co-naturality.................................. 36 A matrixial understanding of subjectification............................................ 38 Overview .................................................................................................... 40
Part 1 The shock of the multicultural
2. The multicentric world: interview by Jan Van Pelt .................53
3. In praise of Jean-Marc Ela, advocate of the people of below ...................................................................................71
4. Frenzy, violence and ethical renewal in Kinshasa....................... 77 Method of inquiry ..................................................................................... 81 Kinshasa ....................................................................................................... 82
v
Body and affect in the intercultural encounter An orgy of violence and ruptures in the 1990s ................................... 89 From illusion to fury .................................................................................90 Proletarian uprisings .................................................................................92 Positions of failure ....................................................................................94 Predatory economy of the street ................................................................96 Violence seeking to reverse social injustice ...................................................97 Ideals and norms fade away ......................................................................99 Poor and wealthy in a common void .......................................................101 The ethical dawn of oniric regeneration ............................................. 102 Mimesis ends in exhaustion ................................................................... 104 Frenzy and ostentation ...........................................................................106 Critique and creativity ...........................................................................111 The dawn of a new cosmology .......................................................... 114 Conclusion ............................................................................................... 116
Part 2 Cultural embedding of the body, senses and meaning
5. A dancing mask, estranged in the museum................................ 119
The dancing masks ................................................................................. 120 A cult enactment turned into a curio ................................................... 122 The masculine gaze and its incipient deconstruction ......................... 124 The mask’s view upon the observer ................................................... 127
6. Affects and senses in healing.......................................................... 131 Affliction cults’ life-bearing meaning ................................................... 132 Blending of sensory capacities ............................................................. 134 Borderlinking and the dynamic of homeopathy .............................. 141 Conclusion ............................................................................................... 144
vi
Contents Part 3 The moral economy of the intercultural
7. Salvation of souls: the Belgian masculine missionary........... 149 The “civilising mission” ......................................................................... 151 The Belgian missionary endeavour in the Congo .............................. 153 Christian modernisation in the homeland ................................................153 The missionaries’ styles and strategies .................................................. 155 Indigenising or the adaptation effort ........................................................155 The assimilation strategy .......................................................................159 Harmonious association attempts ...........................................................160 The whitening trap ................................................................................161 The educational endeavour ................................................................... 163 Schools and books as subjugation ...........................................................165 Different styles of education ...................................................................166 The indigenising approach to educatio167n ................................................... Towards a practical education, but unsuccessful .......................................169 The association option ............................................................................169 Higher learning and university .............................................................. 170 Epilogue ................................................................................................... 172
8. Anthropology cataloguing classical African medicine René Devisch and Mbonyinkebe Sebahire................................. 175
Classical African medicine and health care ......................................... Local cultural perspectives on body and health ................................ The life-force and life-flow ....................................................................... The gendering of health .........................................................................
Symptoms and cultural etiology .......................................................... Diagnosis ............................................................................................... Cultural idioms of distress ..................................................................... Divinatory etiology ................................................................................
vii
176 182 182 186
189 189 191 194
Body and affect in the intercultural encounter Treatment ................................................................................................. 197 Affliction and healing cults .....................................................................198 The synergism of healing procedures .......................................................201 Transforming devices and cultural inducers .............................................203 Conclusion ............................................................................................... 211
9. Plural health care in Kinshasa René Devisch, Lapika Dimonfu, Jaak Le Roy and Peter Crossman ............................................................................213
The action-research ................................................................................ 216 Research setting ......................................................................................216 Research techniques................................................................................ 217 Findings ................................................................................................221 From data to interpretation ...................................................................226 From research to action ........................................................................ 228 Quality of care...................................................................................... 232 Organisation of the healers.................................................................... 233 Benefits for the community...................................................................... 233 Collaboration with biomedical care......................................................... 234 Cooperation with faith healers................................................................ 234 Discussion ................................................................................................ 235 Contemporary Congo’s shattered mirrors ...............................................236 The lay therapy management group ........................................................237 The mind set of the researchers ..............................................................241 Product of Western-derived science .........................................................246 Conclusion ............................................................................................... 248
Interdisciplinary thesaurus .................................................................................249 Notes ................................................................................................................277 References ..........................................................................................................281 Index ................................................................................................................301
viii
Acknowledgements
The Yakaphone communities in southwestern DR Congo and Kinshasa have welcomed me generously. Let me mention with gratitude the elders from Taanda and my collaborator Ulenguluka K asaamba in particular. In Kinshasa, I enjoyed the steady institutional support of professor Lapika Dimonfu (University of Kinshasa), as well as Muyika Musungu’s collaboration. The multifarious encounter has fostered a feeling of recognition and an ethical debt within me, along with a longing to render an authentic report, one reinforced by anthropological reflexivity. The book owes a great deal to the generous advice offered by professor emeritus Wim van Binsbergen and dr Hugo Stuer MD, as well as the forbearance of professor Francis Nyamnjoh, editor-in-chief of Langaa in a joint venture with the African Studies Centre. I would like to cordially thank Dr. Sean O’ Dubhghaill and Bart Van Hoorick for editing my English prose. Professor Oswald Devisch designed the vibrant book cover, something which I feel sets the tone for the co-resonance between the weaving of the local universe of the living and the exploratory meeting. For more than ten years, two different monthly seminars (EBP-BSP; NLS, G. Laforce convener) for psychoanalytical and anthropological reflection, have enriched my space for thought considerably. My hearty thanks go to my seminar colleagues. The present volume is released in parallel with a complementary volume in French published by Langaa, African Studies Center and Département d’anthropologie & Bruylant Academia at Louvain-Brussels (Devisch 2017b). In a gripping biographic novel, Koen Peeters (2017) pithily recounts the Flemish early roots of my intercultural sensitivity. He closely traces, in Southwest Congo, the steps of my anthropological search for endogenous ways of unrav-elling the unspeakable and of healing the intangible shadow of our selfs.  My affectionate gratitude goes to my wife, Maria De Leeuw. She joined me and gathered much data on fauna and flora, along with photographic documentation regarding ritual life during the