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Seminar about Zulu divination

Thursday, January 24, 2019 5:40 - 7:10 pm


African Studies Center - TUFS (ASC-TUFS) and Center for African Area Studies, Kyoto University (CAAS-KU) will hold the 9th TUFS-KU Seminar on January 24, 2019. This is also the 30th ASC Seminar and is jointly organized by Kanto branch of Japan Association for African Studies.

We will invite Dr. Yongkyu Chang, a director of Institute of African Studies, Hankuku University of Foreign Studies (IAS-HUFS). He has been staying in Japan as a visiting professor of Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University (ASAFAS).

Dr. Chang will focus on isangoma, a Zulu diviner, and ukubhula ngathambo, a Zulu divination. He will show its logical process and how divinatory knowledge is constructed by introducing how the divinatory séance is performed.

◆Speaker: Dr. Yongkyu Chang
(Visiting Professor, ASAFAS, Kyoto University, Japan / Director, IAS-HUFS, South Korea)

◆Title: "A system of knowledge in action": The Logical Process and Cognitive interpretation of Zulu divination

◆Abstract: The subjects of divination and of diviners have been relatively neglected in the anthropological study of religion when one considers the volume of publication that has been devoted to witchcraft and sorcery. Under this circumstance, divination systems are merely regarded in terms of a process of confirming witchcraft accusation in a broad social and political context. Diviners have also been sidelined in other ways. The derogatory term, witchdoctor, was for too long accepted within the earlier agnostic bias of anthropologists as if witch detecting is the sole mission of the diviner. Consequently, divination systems and diviners are conceived as something illogical and irrational mechanisms and agents of the mystically embedded world.

The aim of my presentation is to show the logical process of divination by introducing the divinatory practice of isangoma, a Zulu diviner, who casts amathambo, divining bones, in order to diagnose client's problem. Divining bones are the principal apparatus of divination among Zulu diviners and the logical process of divination is to resolve the disorder caused by various malevolent agents and put this disorder back to the normal. This divination is performed in a unique way by casting divining bones on a divining mat and read the configuration of them. The interpretation of divination is complicating since the divinatory séance is full of symbolism and knowledge which are firmly rooted in the worldview of the Zulu.
In this presentation, I am going to introduce a popular Zulu divination, ukubhula ngathambo, and try to interpret the configuration of divination in order to show the unique way of constructing divinatory knowledge.

◆Keywords: Amathambo, Divination, Divinatory knowledge, Isangoma, Symbolism, The Zulu, Ukubhula ngathambo

◆Date & Time: Thursday, January 24, 2019 5:40 - 7:10 pm

◆Venue: Room 102, Research and Lecture Building, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

◆Language: English

◆Admission: Free

◆No pre-registration is needed.

◆Jointly organized by African Studies Center - TUFS, the Center for African Area Studies - Kyoto University, and Kanto branch of Japan Association for African Studies