Northern Nigeria is home to the largest concentration of Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa. However, Susan M. O'Brien finds that the controversial practice of bori spirit possession often has challenged the dominant, public face of Islam. O'Brien tracks a long history of bori ritual persisting through several centuries of Islamic censure and British colonial suppression—as a healing practice, a form of entertainment, and a repository of Hausa memory. O'Brien situates bori spirit mediums as typical, rather than deviant or marginal members of the Muslim community. She documents a less orthodox application of Islam that forces new interpretations of how to be Muslim today.
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Susan M. O'Brien is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Florida. Her work has appeared in Africa Today.Review:
"Illuminates major aspects of Hausa society and challenges long-held assumptions about bori, Islam, and gender." —John H. Hanson, Indiana University Bloomington
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