The Hammer and the Flute

Women, Power, and Spirit Possession

Mary Keller



Feminist theory and postcolonial theory share an interest in developing theoretical frameworks for describing and evaluating subjectivity comparatively, especially with regard to non-autonomous models of agency. As a historian of religions, Mary Keller uses the figure of the "possessed woman" to analyze a subject that is spoken-through rather than speaking and whose will is the will of the ancestor, deity or spirit that wields her to engage the question of agency in a culturally and historically comparative study that recognizes the prominent role possessed women play in their respective traditions.


[A] provocative exploration of possession theory... Keller is able to offer not only fresh insight into possession phenomena but also a penetrating critique of the categories and concepts with which it has been theorized. — Journal of Religion


Mary Keller works at the intersection of feminist theory, postcolonial theory, and indigenous studies theory in order to study the relationship of religious lives to struggles for meaning and power. She teaches at University of Wyoming.