Deborah Frempong

Debbie Frempong is a third-year doctoral student in the anthropology department at Brown University. Her ethnographic project on colonial Christianity in Accra looks at the forms of womanhood that were institutionalized by several missionary churches in the mid-19th to early-20th century, and its subsequent effects on the current politics of gender and sexuality. Her more contemporary work looks at returnee women’s modes of belonging through their reintegration experiences in Accra, connecting questions about transnationalism, belonging, gendered subjectivities, and Christianity. Consequently, it explores how the gendered politics of reintegration produces and mediates ideas of modernity and (post) colonial subjectivities.

Concept: Copresence

Copresence has been written about as a mode or sense of being with others — humans and non humans, crossing both physical- and technological-generated environments (Goffman 1963, Mead 1934, Zhao 2003). It is that which makes subjects mutually accessible to each other, engendering a social relationship that is sensed between them. Aisha Beliso-De Jesús, in her book Electric Santería, urges us to think about Santería copresences as a “somatic experience” of walking with, as opposed to a mind reaching toward an unobtainable (evident in meditation’s transcendentalism). Here, copresences are sensed through chills, shivers, tingles, premonitions, and possessions; they produce haunting sensations that can be revealed through the body, creating a primarily affective and sensory mode of relation between objects, people, ghosts, etcetera. Traversing time, copresences also undo linearity and show up in the form of a past that is not past, making themselves known through memories, stories, and events. Consequently, thinking about presences as a substrate of relation may have implications for studies of historical continuity and/or disruption. If copresences are a form of hauntology, how might we approach the histories of academic disciplines and their subsequent copresences? How might the history of Christian colonial violence produce several different racial, sexual, national, and diasporic copresences, and how do they, in turn, interact and negotiate with each other?