Magical Interpretations, Material Realities: Modernity, Witchcraft and the Occult in Postcolonial Africa

By Todd Sanders

This quantity units out fresh pondering on witchcraft in Africa, paying specific recognition to diversifications in meanings and practices. It examines the best way assorted humans in numerous contexts are making feel of what 'witchcraft' is and what it could possibly mean. Using fresh ethnographic fabrics from around the continent, the quantity explores how witchcraft articulates with specific smooth settings for instance: the nation in Cameroon; Pentecostalism in Malawi; the college method in Nigeria and the IMF in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Tanzania. The editors offer a well timed review and reconsideration of long-standing anthropological debates approximately 'African witchcraft', whereas at the same time elevating broader matters concerning the theories of the western social sciences.

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The query of translation is although even more advanced. due to the fact that Africans themselves use either the English and French phrases for ‘witchcraft’, ‘sorcery’ and sorcellerie and feature performed due to the fact that colonial occasions – that's, for the final 100 years or extra – the meanings of those phrases have advanced; they've got now not stayed static. additionally, strategies of urbanization and migration have intended that local community have followed indigenous phrases from neighbouring teams or from these whose languages became the lingua franca or nationwide language of alternative nations. there's for that reason no effortless dialogue in regards to the basic translation of indigenous phrases into English or French. an extra and significant aspect has been the influence of Christianity on witchcraft trust, and the deployment of dualistic considering surrounding the powers of God and the satan (e. g. Niehaus et al. 2001: ch. 2). This has proved really appropriate for an knowing of the increase of Pentecostal and different charismatic church buildings in Africa (van Dijk, bankruptcy five; Meyer 1999; MacGaffey 1983). Witchcraft in Africa is a fancy old 6 Henrietta L. Moore and Todd Sanders phenomenon that's specific to neighborhood contexts, has advanced and adjusted markedly over the years and is specifically tied to African different types of modernity. a quick heritage of witchcraft: anthropology’s ghosts even though early anthropologists, directors and others had written much approximately African witchcraft from the flip of the 19th century, none of those writings matched in readability of exposition or eloquence Evans-Pritchard’s Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic one of the Azande, first released in 1937. outfitted on a superior origin of prior explorations (Evans-Pritchard 1928, 1929, 1931, 1932a, 1932b, 1933, 1934, 1935), this tome used to be the first significant treatise on African witchcraft which might fire the anthropological mind's eye on a couple of concerns, and which has served as an anthropological benchmark to this present day. In an implicit argument with Lévy-Bruhl (1926), who adamantly argued that Africans have been mired in a paranormal, ‘prelogical’ mentality, Evans-Pritchard claimed that Azande pondering used to be no much less rational than eu pondering. Azande witchcraft, quite, used to be a hugely coherent and engaged approach of meanings – an African epistemology – that made logical feel as soon as one understood the fundamental premises upon which it used to be established. Evans-Pritchard hence took a ‘cultural’ or ‘symbolic’ method of witchcraft, in that his significant situation was once with the sociology of data and platforms of concept. So why did the Azande think in witchcraft? His solution: since it defined the inexplicable. Witchcraft provided causes for misfortunes, causes that addressed the ‘why’ greater than the ‘how’ questions. therefore, to bear in mind one rather famous instance, while free-standing granaries sometimes collapsed and killed these sitting less than them, the Azande knew in addition to Europeans that termites had eaten and therefore weakened the legs, hence occasioning the unlucky occasion.

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