An Introduction to Spirit Children: The Case of N’ma

The following is an excerpt from the introduction of my recent book, Spirit Children: Illness, Poverty, and Infanticide in Northern Ghana. The following ethnographic vignette introduces the spirit child phenomenon through the case of N’ma. [2,600 words] Outside his office one morning Joe was urgently awaiting my arrival. With a notebook and mobile phone in hand, he quickly …

Continue reading An Introduction to Spirit Children: The Case of N’ma

Rituals for Suspicion, Rituals for Fate

This work in progress is part of my emerging collection of essays titled, "The White Man is My Driver." Details on this effort and the first essay are here. This piece moves further into how culture shapes our our interpersonal concerns. [3,000 words] I must have seemed slightly unhinged. I was in the middle of a …

Continue reading Rituals for Suspicion, Rituals for Fate

Spirit Children and Family Misfortune: The Case of Victor

The following is a second excerpt from my recent book, Spirit Children: Illness, Poverty, and Infanticide in Northern Ghana. Within rural Northern Ghana, the Nankani people describe how disabled or ill children and those whose births coincide with tragic events are spirit children sent from the bush to cause misfortune and destroy the family. Upon identification, …

Continue reading Spirit Children and Family Misfortune: The Case of Victor

Featured

The White Man is My Driver

I'm working on a new collection of essays and experimenting with different forms of writing. This post is from my book in progress tentatively titled, “The White Man is My Driver: Fieldnotes on Identity and Belonging.” Readability and narrative will be privileged over theory and abstraction. In other words, the book consists of mostly the …

Continue reading The White Man is My Driver

Risk, Hope, and Help-Seeking: The Case of Leah

The following is an excerpt from my recent book, Spirit Children: Illness, Poverty, and Infanticide in Northern Ghana. I present Leah and the challenges that her family had while caring for her. Experience-near, ethnographic accounts provide a much needed "human" and "lived" dimension to the oft-sterile health statistics and stereotypes that are used to inform …

Continue reading Risk, Hope, and Help-Seeking: The Case of Leah

Finding Empathy Through Troubling Stories

This reflection was originally posted on the University of Wisconsin Press website to mark the publication of my book, "Spirit Children: Illness and Poverty in Ghana." As I began writing about infanticide and the “spirit child” phenomenon in Northern Ghana, I became interested in how narratives of vulnerability and difficult human experiences can evoke powerful …

Continue reading Finding Empathy Through Troubling Stories