Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2000
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Iowa
Spirits in Conflict: Gender, Alcohol and Spirit Possession in Chuuk, Micronesia

This project investigates the relationships among gender, alcohol use and spirit possession in Chuuk:, Micronesia. While there is evidence that female spirit possession emerged in the l 970s, concurrently with an increase in male alcohol abuse, and that widespread, spontaneous possessions are linked to alcohol problems in the family, little is known about this phenomenon. This multi-method study will examine this relationship in order to understand spirit possession as a moral discourse about alcohol abuse, gender relations, kinship and conflict. By applying and refining sociocultural theories of gender, agency, resistance and power, the proposed project will contribute to a more complex ethnographic understanding of women's religious lives, experiences with male alcohol abuse, and domestic politics, and will provide important information for Micronesian scholars, policy-makers and women leaders to address issues related to chronic male alcohol abuse, including wife-beating, child neglect, violence, crime and suicide.