In this article, I apply a structural-phenomenological conception of experience and self to the anthropological theorizing of spirit possession. In particular, I argue that a phenomenology of the alien, as elaborated by the philosopher Bernhard Waldenfels, allows for a more differentiated understanding of possession phenomena. Following a characterization of alienness-in conceptual distinction from the more common term "otherness"-as a dimension that necessarily eludes experience, I describe spirit possession as a cultural technology to appropriate the experiential alien by transforming it into the symbolic other. I discuss this relation to the alien in thematic areas central to the anthropology of possession: illness and therapy, symbolism and naming, embodiment and self.

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Keywords Alienness/otherness, Ethnography, Phenomenology, Spirit possession, Waldenfels
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Journal Anthropology of Consciousness
Leistle, B. (2014). From the alien to the other: Steps toward a phenomenological theory of spirit possession. Anthropology of Consciousness, 25(1), 53–90. doi:10.1111/anoc.12019