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Embodied Memories

Embodied Memories

(p.79) 10 Embodied Memories
The Power of the Between
University of Chicago Press

The cultural memories of Nigerien state power are embedded in the recurring performance of myth and spirit possession ceremonies. They are also embodied in the public performance of epic poetry and other oral histories. We can also assume that cultural memories are infused in familial objects and/or narratives that speak to the lived experience of relatively powerless people. In Niger the more individual realm of cultural memory, or sensuous perception, is not usually about bravery or bravado—it is usually about how people learned to coexist with (a) the brutal conditions brought on by the state; or (b) the existential uncertainties triggered by guerre intestine, politique intestine, or the harsh Sahelian environment. A move toward a more sensuous ethnography may not concretely answer many of the imponderables that give shape to contemporary relations between the state and its subjects in Africa. But it may well enable us to understand better the endless and unstable flows and eddies of the between. It may even enable us to understand more fully that which occurs in the very face of our being.

Keywords:   sensuous ethnography, Nigerien state power, cultural memories, sensuous perception

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