This rich ethnographic study explores the life and work of successful marabout women in Dakar. It is set against the background of their private family lives, of developments in Senegalese society, and of global changes. While including female experts in spirit possession and plant-based healing, it also gives a rare insight in the work of women who offer Islamic knowledge such as Arabic astrology, numerology, divination and prayer sessions. With the analysis of marabout women's work this study sheds light on the ways in which women's authority in esoteric knowledge is negotiated, legitimated, and publicly recognised in Dakar. The study focuses especially upon marabout women's strategies to gain their clients' trust. Reference to rural areas is a significant element in this process. This study thus contributes to an understanding of the gendered way in which trust and scepticism are related to marabouts' work and of the role of a connection between Dakar and the rural areas therein.
Amber B. Gemmeke has an MA in Cultural Anthropology from Leiden University (2000). In 2001 she obtained a "Diplome d'Études Approfondies" at Université XIV and I (Paris). In 2008 she obtained a PhD at Leiden University. She is currently teaching at the University of Amsterdam.