Telling the Transformation: Were-Snakes and the Ecology of Water


Margaret Lyngdoh (University of Tartu)

This presentation will make a folkloristic analysis of the human–snake transformation tradition among the indigenous Khasi Communities. I show how water is key to were-snake transformation. This catalyzes community responses to “were–snakes” on multi–level contexts. “Water” as a generic resource is used as an “analytical category” for all the oral narratives connected with the tradition and becomes a communicative modality through which clan, transformation, ecology, and the social organization of the community are processed. This presentation is based on primary fieldwork with eight were–snakes over the course of the last seven years.

Part of 32-02 Multi-Species Relationships from the Margins: Case Studies from North and Northeast India, Wednesday, October 20, 11:15 am–12:45 pm