Playing with perspectives: spirit possession, mimesis, and permeability in the buuta ritual in South India

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Abstract

The aim of this study is to investigate spirit possession through the lenses of mimesis, permeability, and perspectivity. Recent studies have explored the significance of perspective exchange as reciprocal subjectification. At the same time, the importance of reflexive self-awareness amid perspective exchange has been noted. Linking studies on perspective exchange with those on spirit possession, this article tries to show an alternative understanding of perspective exchange as the de-subjectification and generative transformation of self and other. Focusing on the buuta ritual in South India, I examine perspective exchange as the capability for freeing oneself from one's subjectivity enough to let various perspectives come and go through the permeable self. Being permeable and reflexive, the buuta impersonator plays with multiple perspectives to transform both his and others' perspectives to enable all to become ‘real’ humans in relation to the deity.

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