“For You to Conquer, You Need to be Meek”: Prophets, Profit and Pilgrimage


Anika Wilson (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee)

This paper explores ways prospective prophets in contemporary Malawi talk about their journeys to spiritual greatness and the remote sites where their new identities were birthed. My research maps the process of transformation, its goals, and markers of a successful journey toward prophethood expressed by Malawians. One powerful narrative not only told but enacted and re-enacted, is that of someone from humble and/or impoverished beginnings achieving an ultimate elevation. For prophets, marginal origins are an advantage, yet movement toward the center both prove the worth of the prophet while simultaneously undermining the credibility of the prophet and his/her message.

Part of 01-07 Pilgrimage and Place, Thursday, October 13, 8:00 am–10:00 am