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Covid-19 infection as ritual process in Venda, South Africa.

Authors :
McNeill, Fraser G.
Source :
Anthropology Southern Africa (2332-3256). May2024, Vol. 47 Issue 1, p32-45. 14p.
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This article offers an ethnographic account of Covid-19 infection in Venda, South Africa. During July 2021, a research interlocutor and I tested positive for the virus and embarked on a 10-day period of isolation together. During this time, we practiced steaming rituals (u aravhela) on a daily basis and observed several healing practices related to eating, drinking and observing space. For me, the anthropologist, it was a period of intense participant observation; for the interlocutor, it was a period of teaching during which he became a makeshift ritual expert and I, his apprentice. Simultaneous to our isolation, exaggerated rumours about the interlocutor's illness circulated in the area. This article frames Covid-19 infection as a Turnerian rite of passage whilst using ethnographic evidence to illustrate weaknesses in Turner's model. The article concludes that the rumour and ritual around Covid-19 revealed the interconnected dynamics between stability, instability and efforts to make certainty under profoundly uncertain circumstances. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]


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Academic Search Index
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Anthropology Southern Africa (2332-3256)
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Academic Journal
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