Do different modernities beget different forms of witchcraft accusation? Discuss by comparing African to non‐African ethnographic examples.
- Witchcraft as a flexble notion «deeply attuned to the conundrums of our contemporary world», “new situations demand new magic” - Witchcraft is sometimes seen not only as a part of modernity but also as a «locally inflected critique of it» - People are not simply overrun by modernities, but they «creatively accommodate, and selectively appropriate new styles, symbols, and structures of meaning» (Gaonkar 1999:16) - Multi-crisis as a catalyst of escalation
Reasons for witchcraft accusations:
- new techologies
- epidemias (aids/hiv)
← African societies
- Wars as catalyst – destabilizing society, leaving orphans - urban witches
- capitalism contributing to frictions in societies and thus witch accusations - religious organisations fighting against witchcraft
- organ trade as a recent tradition
- social changes (changes in social order as contributing to escalation) - can operate on onger distances now
- New Guinea
- Saudi Arabia
So basically, modernities play the role of catalysts incresing internal tensions and conflicts which in their turn lead to increases in witchcraft accusations.
- Expansion of witch accusation practices as a sign of the crises that affect post‐colonial Africa - Religion against witchcraft – parallel between Africa and Medieval Europe - The notion of urban child witches as a cultural response to the crisis(s) - The role of the family and kin connections in witch accusations – disfunctional families, undermining of parental authority, increasing individualization - Contribution of such factors as economic instability and poverty - Modernisation increasing jealousies thus leading to witch accusations - Urbanisation as a common trait – both Africa and Papua New Guinea - Multi-crisis leading to increased number of orphans leading to increased cases of child witch accusations - Cases of Albino's accusations in Burundi and the United Republic of Tanzania, but also in Côte d’Ivoire, DRC, Kenya, Senegal and Zimbabwe. -
From Witchcraft allegations, refugee protection and human rights: a review of the evidence by Jill Schnoebelen (2009): - defining witchcraft: “harmful actions carried out by persons presumed to have access to supernatural powers.” (Ashforth, Adam. Reflections on Spiritual Insecurity in a Modern African City (Soweto), 41 African Studies Review 39 (Dec. 1998), at 64.) - When a community believes itself to “be under the threat of physical or cultural extinction,” people tend “to rely more heavily on supernatural explanations.” (Harrell-Bond, Barbara. Imposing Aid, Oxford University Press (1986), available at http://www.geog.sussex.ac.uk/scmr/imposing_aid/ (last visited Dec. 13, 2008). Online version is without page numbers.) - Witch hunts are “at once reflective of and an agent of sociocultural change.” (Schoeneman, supra note 6, at 338 (author’s emphasis).) - Events like “ecological changes (i.e., climatic, floral, and faunal changes), natural cataclysms (epidemics, famine, catastrophic storms, floods, and earthquakes), wars, and internal conflicts (caused by economic, political and intellectual revivals and declines)” contribute to sociocultural distortion that leads to cultural disorganization.14 At this stage, “‘witchcraft,’ ‘communist plots,’ and the like are viable (and sometimes the only) explanations of misfortune (especially in situations where traditional coping mechanisms have been lost or rendered ineffective).”15 - Feelings of envy, hatred, jealousy and fear frequently accompany witchcraft accusations, which have been interpreted as a “conscious or unconscious displacement of responsibility for a rupture in an interpersonal relationship.”16...
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