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Adeline Masquelier


Current position: Professor, Department of Anthropology, Tulane University, USA.

During her AIAS-COFUND Fellowship Professor Adeline Masquelier worked on the project 'Haunted Schools: Schooling, Possession, and Ecology in Niger'.

Project at AIAS

In Niger, where girl’s education is a fraught issue, schoolgirls are occasionally possessed by spirits said to have become homeless when, some time ago, the trees they dwelled in were cut to build new schools or expand existing ones. Situated at the intersection of religion, ecology, and education, this project considers what happens when schools emerge as both crucibles where futures are forged and sites of spiritual attacks that draw students back to some ancestral space-time. Through a focus on haunted schools, it explores 1) narratives of loss, displacement, subjection, and appropriation; 2) the wider claims about the past that these narratives authorize; and 3) how these claims reframe the present and ultimately call into question seemingly established futures. Far from distancing adolescent girls from a religious heritage that many have rejected, schools become entry points for the past to come rushing in, thereby endangering the very futures opened up by education. By derailing the progressive trajectories that schooling enables, possession lays bare existing struggles in the victims’ lives as well as larger constraints on future-making, forcing them to recalibrate their aspirations.

Project title:

Haunted Schools: Schooling, Possession, and Ecology in Niger

Area of research:

Social anthropology

Fellowship period:

1 Oct 2018 – 30 Sep 2019 

Fellowship type

AIAS-COFUND II Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow

This fellowship has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 754513 and The Aarhus University Research Foundation.