Rubenstein Memorial Scholarship 2017 – Courtney Stafford-Walter

Courtney Stafford-Walter

Steven Lee Rubenstein Memorial Scholarship 2017

Courtney Stafford-Walter

University of Saint Andrews, Scotland

The SALSA Executive Board is pleased to announce that the Rubenstein Award Committee has selected Courtney Stafford-Walter from the University of St. Andrews as this year’s winner of the Steven Lee Rubenstein Memorial Scholarship. The award provides a stipend of $500 in support of travel for Courtney’s participation in the 2017 SALSA Conference in Lima, Peru, July 20-23. In addition, the SALSA Executive Board has decided that the 2017 winner of the Rubenstein Award will  receive $500 in matching funds from the Norm and Sibby Whitten Fund.

‘The Granny Got Her’: Gender Politics of Spirit Possession in Southern Guyana

It is not unusual for Wapishana people to speak about spirits. There are daily discussions about kanaimas and river spirits in Region 9, Guyana, and people often carry a clove of garlic in their pockets for protection. Typically when people describe spirits, however, they refer to them as either genderless or male. During my fieldwork I encountered one dramatically different example, the granny spirit who is understood as the cause of the sickness, a local term for a particular type of spirit possession. The sickness primarily affects young women who live in the dormitory of the boarding school, who experience fits, become incredibly strong and violent, and ultimately run up the mountain located behind the dormitory. The spirit who is understood to be the catalyst of this kind of possession is not only understood to be female, but also an older, gnarled ‘granny.’ This sheds light on the gendered aspect of possession and how the sickness relates to the experience of the life cycle for young girls. The paper will explore the implications of the granny spirit on intergenerational relationships, separation and kinship, and rapid social change in the region.

Panel 11: “Nonhuman and Other-than-Human Gender and Sexuality in Indigenous Lowland South America” (organized by Theresa L. Miller, Smithsonian Institution).

See the Steven Lee Rubenstein Memorial Award Home Page.


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