Saturday, 1 November 2008
In my recent post on Rita Voltmer's Hexen. Wissen was stimmt, I mentioned that she says that she refers to modern claims of vampirism in Africa. She refers to a book by Wolfgang Behringer which I haven't seen. However, some claims of 'vampirism', which in this case refers to blood drinkers who may not necessarily be dead people, are investigated in a book called Speaking with Vampires: Rumor and History in Colonial Africa by Luise White (University of California Press, 2000). I admit that I haven't read it, and it isn't really about the vampires that this blog is about it, but from what I have noticed it looks like a very interesting book about history writing:
'Historians should, I think, find vampire stories good to write about, just as the people quoted in this book found vampires good to talk about. They make for better, more comprehensive histories. As chapter 1 argues, vampires themselves are revealing beings: a separate race of bloodsucking creatures, living among humans on fluids that they extract from human bodies; vampires mark a way in which relations of race, of bodies, and of tools of extraction can be debated, theorized, and explained. No vampire stands alone. The incorporation of vampire stories in any historical reconstruction allows for a description of these debates. And that description alone should generate a more nuanced reconstruction of the past. The reconstruction does not come from vampire stories alone, but rather from how those stories feed off the other stories through which a past is known. The vampire stories that prostitutes told in colonial Nairobi, for example, did not change the way I thought about the history of that city, but they did allow me to access changing ideas about gender and culture, about menstruation and property and its transmission in colonial times.' (p. 307-8)
If you're intrigued, go to the excerpt available on Amazon to know a bit more about those 'vampires'.