• Helle Samuelsen


Helle Samuelsen: Spirit Children

According to local cosmology among the

Bissa of Burkina Faso, small children up to

3-4 years of age are seen as balancing

between the living and the spiritual worlds.

At this early stage in their lives, they are in a

transitional state with a certain attachment to

the world of spirits and ancestors. On the one

hånd, children are considered vulnerable and

thus eligible for parental protection, while

on the other hånd, they are perceived as

powerful in that they represent the spiritual

world. This local cosmology of early

childhood liminality is inscribed in children’s

bodies through daily practices of

preventing and treating illness. Practices for

controlling bodily orifices, viewed as

thresholds between inner body and the

extemal world, and controlling spatial

boundaries between village and bush, are

important in regulating the relationship

between the living and the spiritual worlds.

Analytically, the body can bc seen as part of

the topology where local cosmology is

unfolded. The article shows how studies of

daily health care practices aimed at

controlling the liminality of small children

contribute to understanding how local

cosmology is practiced in everyday life. It is

argued that although children are not studied

as individual agents in this article, a focus on

children gives insight into other and more

general aspects of the local culture.

Samuelsen, H. (1998). ÅNDEBØRN. Tidsskriftet Antropologi, (38). Hentet fra https://tidsskrift.dk/tidsskriftetantropologi/article/view/115224