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  • Acknowledgments  ix
    Introduction  1
    Part I. Home and the Unhomely: The Foundational Nature of Female Genital Power  19
    1. Genies, Witches, and Women: Locating Female Powers  21
    2. Matrifocal Morality: FGP and the Foundations of "Home"  54
    3. Gender and Resistance: The "Strategic Essentialism" of FGP  81
    Part II. Worldliness: FGP in the Making of Ethnicity, Alliance, and the War in Côte D'Ivoire  117
    4. Founding Knowledge/Binding Power: The Moral Foundations of Ethnicity and Alliance  121
    5. Women at the Checkpoint: Challenging the Forces of Civil War  152
    Part III. Timeliness: Urgent Situations and Emergent Critiques  171
    6. Violation and Deployment: FGP in Politics in Côte D'Ivoire  175
    7. Memory, Memorialization, and Morality  198
    Conclusion. An Intimate Rebuke: A Local Critique in the Global Postcolony  228
    Notes  239
    References  255
    Index  275
  • "An Intimate Rebuke is strikingly original and unprecedented. Laura S. Grillo's anthropological investigation positions Female Genital Power as a powerful reminder of the agency of African women as the bearers of moral authority and the embodiments of ancestors." — Chantal Zabus, author of, Out in Africa: Same-Sex Desire in Sub-Saharan Literatures and Cultures

    "This remarkable book offers a new and insightful understanding of West African women's rituals that feature public genital display, highlighting the central role that postmenopausal women have long played in the moral life of their communities. Presenting a complex, detailed, and revolutionary argument, An Intimate Rebuke could change the face of African studies, opening the field to a heightened sense of women's ritual activism, critical political acumen, and resistance to male tyranny." — Joseph Hellweg, author of, Hunting the Ethical State: The Benkadi Movement of Côte d’Ivoire

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  • Description

    Throughout West African societies, at times of social crises, postmenopausal women—the Mothers—make a ritual appeal to their innate moral authority. The seat of this power is the female genitalia. Wielding branches or pestles, they strip naked and slap their genitals and bare breasts to curse and expel the forces of evil. In An Intimate Rebuke Laura S. Grillo draws on fieldwork in Côte d’Ivoire that spans three decades to illustrate how these rituals of Female Genital Power (FGP) constitute religious and political responses to abuses of power. When deployed in secret, FGP operates as spiritual warfare against witchcraft; in public, it serves as a political activism. During Côte d’Ivoire’s civil wars FGP challenged the immoral forces of both rebels and the state. Grillo shows how the ritual potency of the Mothers’ nudity and the conjuration of their sex embodies a moral power that has been foundational to West African civilization. Highlighting the remarkable continuity of the practice across centuries while foregrounding the timeliness of FGP in contemporary political resistance, Grillo shifts perspectives on West African history, ethnography, comparative religious studies, and postcolonial studies.

    About The Author(s)

    Laura S. Grillo is Affiliated Faculty in the Department of Theology at Georgetown University.
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