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 …

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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, …

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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 …

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