This article opens with the questions, What is on the inside of a relation? Might we imagine the inner workings of a relational form detached from the elements that it connects? Then, through an ethnographic examination of ancestral interventions among residents in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Maputo, the article challenges conventional understandings of relational forms as the connective “glue” holding together exterior and, to a certain extent, autonomous elements. In southern Mozambique, ancestral spirits intervene in the lives of their descendants as interior agentive forces that enable the latter to assimilate seemingly exterior elements that are nevertheless configured as being already “inside” the living person. Conventional distinctions between exterior and interior are consequently dissolved through a peculiar process of “interior swelling” that occurs when an inside is extended outward. The article shows how it is the fuzziness of relational forms that gives to ancestral interventions their expansive qualities.
Morten Nielsen; Interior Swelling: On the Expansive Effects of Ancestral Interventions in Maputo, Mozambique. Common Knowledge 1 August 2012; 18 (3): 433–450. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-1630268
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