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Anthropology Department
 
Julie A. Jenkins

Julie A. Jenkins

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Office: Dana Science Center 349A
Tel. (518) 580-5413
E-mail:  jjenkins@skidmore.edu
Office hours:

 

 

Julie Jenkins’ research examines a religious practice in Ghana that has not been the subject of previous anthropological research, although has inspired debates, international and national interventions, films, and legal sanctions. The form of female religious affiliation to ‘Ewe’ shrines known as trokosi or fiasidi is commonly described as a form of ‘female ritual slavery’ and is the subject of an extensive transnational abolition campaign. Protagonists of the campaign, largely from faith-based NGOs, argue that trokosi are illegitimately initiated to specific shrines based on an offence committed by another lineage member, acting as a perpetual figure of restitution. They also argue that the initiates are forced to work for male priests, raped by these men, and stigmatized in their communities because of their slave status. The highly publicized abolition campaign stimulated a counter-campaign, led by a neo-traditional organization, that argued that the initiates are Queen-Mothers (rather than slaves), role-models to their lineage (rather than figures of restitution), and are socially privileged. Central to these contestations has been the figure of the fiasidi, particularly those initiated to shrines in one locality, Klikor, where she based her research; abolitionists define fiasidiwo as being a variant of trokosi, despite some key differences.

EDUCATION

REGIONAL FOCUS: West Africa, particularly Ghana

RESEARCH & TEACHING INTERESTS

My research examines a religious practice in Ghana that has not been the subject of previous anthropological research, although has inspired debates, international and national interventions, films, and legal sanctions. The form of female religious affiliation to ‘Ewe’ shrines known as trokosi or fiasidi is commonly described as a form of ‘female ritual slavery’ and is the subject of an extensive transnational abolition campaign. Protagonists of the campaign, largely from faith-based NGOs, argue that trokosi are illegitimately initiated to specific shrines based on an offence committed by another lineage member, acting as a perpetual figure of restitution. They also argue that the initiates are forced to work for male priests, raped by these men, and stigmatized in their communities because of their slave status. The highly publicized abolition campaign stimulated a counter-campaign, led by a neo-traditional organization, that argued that the initiates are Queen-Mothers (rather than slaves), role-models to their lineage (rather than figures of restitution), and are socially privileged. Central to these contestations has been the figure of the fiasidi, particularly those initiated to shrines in one locality, Klikor, where I based my research; abolitionists define fiasidiwo as being a variant of trokosi, despite some key differences.

COURSES

PUBLICATIONS

 



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