In Sorcery's Shadow: A Memoir of Apprenticeship among the Songhay of Niger

In Sorcery's Shadow: A Memoir of Apprenticeship among the Songhay of Niger

by Paul Stoller

The tale of Paul Stoller's sojourn among sorcerors in the Republic of Niger is a story of growth and change, of mutual respect and understanding that will challenge all who read it to plunge deeply into an alien world.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Anthropology
  • Rating: 3.91
  • Pages: 252
  • Publish Date: February 15th 1989 by University of Chicago Press
  • Isbn10: 0226775437
  • Isbn13: 9780226775432

Read the Book "In Sorcery's Shadow: A Memoir of Apprenticeship among the Songhay of Niger" Online

Concerned about his professional objectivity, Stoller wonders if it's ethical for an anthropologist to become initiated by a sorcerer, and actually practice sorcery. Of all the sorcerers that Stoller encountered in Niger, the only one I respected was Adamu Jennitongo. The sorcerers Stoller studied with indicated that becoming "hard" is their ideal.

A fascinating look at the Songhay culture of western Niger through the eyes of an anthropologist who became an apprentice sorcerer. Perhaps the question for this non-fiction account is how much of Paul Stoller's description of sorcery's power is true? While Paul's book never suggests the sorcerers with whom he worked failed to come up with cures and solutions to the ailements that their trusting clients brought to them, my colleague ranted about people who let an infection go too far, or for whom the witch doctor's ministrations did nothing but further harm, where a simple trip to a legitimate doctor in a timely way would have saved a life.

The story features the anthropologist Paul Stoller as he conducts research in Niger over the corse of four years. Where the book falls apart is that, because it's all true, it's fairly anti-climactic. For instance, there is great tension building throughout he second half of the book between Stoller and Djibo... Still, it's a great book that sucks you in and teaches you a little along the way. Sure the ending is a little disappointing, but if I really had an issue with that I wouldn't read Stephen King. Read more reviews on The Book Closet

The conversations, advice and comments regarding learning and accruing wisdom in life (for example, as offered by Adamu Jenitongo, one of Stoller's instructors) ring true. This ancient way of instructing is survival - oriented whether applied to secular life or the spiritual dimensions: Pay attention. Stoller writes honestly about events that may transpire when one becomes involved with the path of sorcery. Stoller's writing opens a door onto a way of being and life ways that we will never encounter personally. Personally I'm glad anthros like Stoller are sharing their experiences, and so happy to see he isn't turning it into a monetizing venture complete with seminars, workshops, genuine ceremony, A - Level Sorcerer Certification program and delux accommodations!

Stollers experience with the Songhay proves that rationalization in science and Western traditions alone fall short from obtaining a deep understanding and respect for anothers culture and worldview.

After that, my notes (and eyes) slipped from the page.

He has conducted ethnographic research in the Republic of Niger in West Africa and among West African immigrants in New York City.