Accepted paper:

Around the world: prophecy and cosmogenesis among Balanta of Guinea-Bissau


Ramon Sarró (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses how prophets in Guinea Bissau image the wide world and how this imagination is based on, and feeds back into, everyday life concepts of place and space.

Paper long abstract:

Balanta people of Guinea Bissau live in a space they call "fiere". "Fiere" is a polysemic concept meaning almost two opposite locative concepts: it can mean the public central courtyard encircled by houses in an enclosed compound but it can also mean (especially when coming from the mouth of prophets of a local religious movement called kyangyang) 'the world'. Analysing the iconic production of prophets and their discourses, in this paper I discuss the polysemy of the concept of fiere and the semantic and imaginative transformation it operates between the enclosed domain around the houses and the open wide world beyond the villages. I will reflect on place, on closure and openness, on the voice of prophecy and on 'the world', and on the spirit of place as the art of living simultaneously in a close community and in an open and interconnected wide world.

panel P121
Spirit of place