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Demons and Development
The Struggle for Community in a Sri Lankan Village
By James Brow
218 pp. / 6.00 in x 9.00 in / 1996
Paper (978-0-8165-1639-1) [s]
  - Hegemony and Experience

Related Interest
  - Asian Studies
  - Anthropology

In contemporary Sri Lanka, long-established modes of rural life are being disrupted in the name of progress. As this occurs, instances of "demonic possession" have been known to take
Told in the villagers' own words, this is a story of how issues of community were addressed by those who were exposed to a national development project. . . . An important addition to the sociology of development and modernization of South Asian societies.


Rigorous and informative enough to demand attention from specialists, while its brevity and readability will also appeal to a student readership. . . . His detailed and insightful account of micro-political processes at work . . . makes an essential contribution to understanding the hitherto much better documented events on the national political scene.

—Pacific Affairs

place—incidents that may both express the conflicts that result and attempt to resolve them. When residents of the village of Kukulewa were promised sixty new houses, a factional rift arose between those who benefited from the project and those who did not. The breach between what became in effect two separate villages resulted in both divisive accusations of sorcery and spirit-inspired appeals for cooperation. James Brow witnessed these possession trances and sorcery accusations as they occurred, enabling him to convey this richly textured story interweaving political factionalism and troubled spirits. Official projects of development have proceeded apace in Sri Lanka, but until now there have been few accounts of their tendency to tear apart the fabric of rural society. Demons and Development combines an engaging narrative of how development was experienced in one particular village with an original contribution to theories of hegemony, the social anthropology of South Asia, the ethnography of nationalism, and the sociology of development.

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