Between Two Worlds

“It was, according to my father, a test to believe in the Sky Chief, the Kollinsuitan, the Amotqn, the God. And his son Jesu. Jesu Christe. Converting Indians to Christianity in the name of Jesus… there were some casualties. Big time.” “Nick Si John, that’s what the rolls call him. The rolls were the official… Continue reading Between Two Worlds

Contesting Identities: Historical Trauma, Loss, and Cultural Authenticity

“Where do the Coeur d’Alene people come from?” asked Richard. Richard, the Coeur d’Alene Nation's cultural resource manager, was interviewing me about my research proposal. It was 2001, and I was beginning an ethnographic project with a Coeur d’Alene family on intergenerational relations and identity. I was new to anthropology. Intimidated. I wondered why he… Continue reading Contesting Identities: Historical Trauma, Loss, and Cultural Authenticity

On Personhood and its Subjunctivity

This post reflects on tentative and malleable forms of personhood--a construct we often consider to be given and fixed throughout life. This is an enhanced version of material originally appearing in Spirit Children: Illness, Poverty, and Infanticide in Northern Ghana. [1,300 words] Elijah and I sat chatting with three elder men outside a compound. Earlier we… Continue reading On Personhood and its Subjunctivity

Rituals for Suspicion, Rituals for Fate

I must have seemed unhinged. I was in the midst of an extended period of fieldwork and appearing irrational, anxious, and paranoid to outsiders. Julien, a visiting Swiss vaccine researcher, joked that I might "go bush" if I was not careful. I was not losing my mind. Nor was I "going native," a term describing… Continue reading Rituals for Suspicion, Rituals for Fate

The White Man is My Driver

In rural Northern Ghana if you have a vehicle you likely hold a powerful position or are successful. Using a personal driver is even more indicative of status. I was little prepared for what I would learn by having a truck and by “being a driver” during my first weeks in the field. While preparing… Continue reading The White Man is My Driver