AAA Annual Meeting Program

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Paper Information:
Type: Paper
Paper Title: POWERS OF FABULATION
Author: BRIAN GOLDSTONE (Duke University)   
Date/Time: Fri., 3:45 PM
Co-Author(s): BRIAN GOLDSTONE (Duke University) 
Abstract: This paper assesses the practical and conceptual itinerary of miracles in northern Ghana, a rural, often pathologized region whose largely Muslim population has increasingly become the object of evangelistic efforts undertaken by Pentecostal-charismatic churches from the south. Epitomizing for many observers all that is sensational and emergent, flamboyant and dubious about this brand of Christianity, miracles – undoubtedly among the most striking and strikingly misapprehended features of contemporary African life – have concurrently occupied a privileged status within the Western philosophical tradition, long providing an impetus for the theorization of categories both epistemological (evidence, sense perception) and theologico-political (sovereign exception, the event). My aim here is to circumvent these trajectories of thought, thus elaborating what I found to be an alternative grammar of the miraculous: one conceived neither against the backdrop of natural law, nor in terms of radical abnormality, but rather in terms of a singular, wholly passionate mode of testimony – what Deleuze, following Bergson, calls fabulation, or “the pure and simple storytelling function” – which, far from justifying itself against an extant criterion of the real, falsifies and refigures the true/false coordinates of a present reality. By insisting on the primacy of such enunciative acts not simply in rendering legible but in actually producing miracles, the point is not to reduce the facticity of signs and wonders, and the potentialities they engender, to mere stories. On the contrary, it is to restore storytelling, the “fabulative function,” to its elemental and at times quite violent role in the constitution of a life, a future, a world – a world to which the allegedly unsaved inhabitants of northern Ghana, like so many across the continent today, are being beckoned with startling effect.

Program Number: 3-0785
Session Title: AFRICAN FUTURES IN CRISIS
Session Sponsor: Co-Sponsored by Society for Cultural Anthropology and Society for Cultural Anthropology
Session Date/Time: Fri., 1:45 PM-5:30 PM
Organizer(s): BRIAN GOLDSTONE (Duke University) 
Chair(s): CHARLES PIOT (Duke University)  
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