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Wilkens, Katharina (2018): Instant Miracles are Rare, but It Happened to Me Faith-Healing in Urban Tanzania. In: Numen-International Review for the History of Religions, Vol. 65, No. 2-3: pp. 207-231
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The Marian Faith Healing Ministry, under the leadership of the excommunicated Catholic priest Felicien Nkwera, is dedicated to the fight against demons, illness, and corruption. It is a small, but fairly well-known group in Tanzania and enjoys some notoriety due to its propagation of exorcism. At the same time, both the leader and its members fully accept the biomedical paradigm of healing. In this article, I analyze narrative structures reflecting moments of differentiation and de-differentiation between the systems of religious healing and of (bio-) medicine. I draw both on narratives of healing published by Nkwera in his books as well as on narrative interviews conducted with his followers. Religious and biomedical frameworks of explanation were emplotted by some respondents as narratives of miracle healing and conversion, in which biomedicine's denial of spiritual agency serves as the necessary foil to the efficacy of religious healing. My findings contribute to the study of contemporary forms of alternative medicine by making a case for employing methods of narrative analysis in this field.