This book offers a classic anthropological case study from the 1930s, translated into English for the first time. In 1933 the German anthropologist Hans Alexander Winkler came across a 'spirit medium' named Abdel Radi in a village near Luxor in Upper Egypt. Abdel Radi was periodically possessed by the ghost of his uncle, and in that state passed messages to those who came to seek help. In an intense study, Winkler lays out the construction of the world shared by the rural people, with its saints and pilgrims, snake-charmers and wandering holy men, all under the overarching power of God, and shows how Abdel Radi's mediumship made sense in that context. Winkler's book was ahead of its time in analyzing a single institution in its social context, and in showing the debates and disagreements about the meaning of such strange events. His study was overlooked for many years, and has w been brought back into circulation by this translation.
HANS ALEXANDER WINKLER (1900-45), a German anthropologist and specialist in comparative religion, received his PhD from the University of Tubingen. NICHOLAS S. HOPKINS is emeritus professor of anthropology at the American University in Cairo