Catachresis in Côte d’Ivoire: Female Genital Power in Religious Ritual and Political Resistance

in Religion and Gender

Ivoirian women vehemently protest the violence and calamity of civil war by deploying an embodied rhetoric of ritual, appealing to the traditional religious concept of “Female Genital Power.” I propose that their imagistic resistance to the postcolonial state represents a catachresis, with a few interesting twists. Most salient is that what women reinscribe onto the political scene is not as a feature of the imperial culture but the concept-metaphors of indigenous religion, and especially the image of Woman as the source of moral and spiritual power from which proceeds all political, religious, and juridical authority. Whereas the logocentrism of the academy, and postcolonial theory in particular, leads to aporia, ritual remands scholars into the situation of the actual world, where women are actively engaged in self-representation that both defies projected depictions of them and rejects their absence from state conceptions of power

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