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Elizabeth Brooks

Elizabeth Brooks

MFA, Photographic & Electronic Media

Class of 2010

I’m interested in the belief system surrounding the ‘Invisible World’ 

Elizabeth "Lizzy" Brooks '10 (MFA in Photographic and Electronic Media) has spent eight months living closely with female members of a spirit possession sect in urban Zanzibar, Tanzania, making a film and shooting a series of photographs-a mix between the poetic and the documentary-that explore the Swahili concept of the spirit world, especially spirit possession practices. By combining photographs and storytelling during her project, titled Spirit Possession Practices Among Zanzibari Women, she hopes to create a piece meant to be educative yet experimental that will reveal the way these women use ritual and performance to navigate the space between the real and unreal.

"I'm interested in the belief system surrounding the ‘Invisible World' (the term for spirit practices in east Africa) because it acknowledges a crack in our perception, the existence of something that hovers beyond the eye," Brooks said. "I'm also interested in the social ramifications of spirit practices-the rituals function as a support group for the women who participate."

Above and beyond this ambitious project, Brooks is also interested in making a positive impact on the local community by starting an informal technology school for teenage girls at an Internet café near her. She hopes she can help facilitate advancement in computer literacy through digital cameras and blogging software.

During Brooks' Fulbright in the field of photography, she was affiliated with professor Elias Jengo in the art and design department at University of Dar es Salaam, and with Asha Suleiman, a fundi, or Kibuki sect leader, in Michenzani, Zanzibar.