Occult Economies, Demonic Gifts, and Ontological Alterity: An Evangelical Biography of Evil and Redemption in Rural South Sudan

In: Journal of Religion in Africa
Ryan Joseph O’Byrne Post-doctoral Research Officer, the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) London UK

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This paper recounts the autobiography of an evangelical South Sudanese pastor who has been under water to the land of demons, telling of cosmic flows of persons, power, and wealth between times, places, and dimensions. Although it builds on stories circulating across Africa since colonial times and emphasises paradigms found throughout the occult economies literature, what is significant about this autobiography is that it relates the narrator’s own experience. This is important because although these occult elements reference global processes, the narrative given is as much about the local as it is the global. Likewise, it as much spiritual as it is material or economic. My analysis thus goes beyond the occult economy or its material effects and instead demonstrates the ontological alterity and spiritual meaningfulness of such incursions and attempts to push the envelope of academic analyses and interpretations relating to the diverse complexity of religious experience, African or otherwise.

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