Academic Papers: All

(2015), “Children accused of witchcraft in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): between structural and symbolic violence”

In this paper Quaretta considers the phenomenon of “child-witches” (enfants-sorciers) in Lubumbashi (Katanga, DRC), which seems to be the result of the combination of two socio-cultural factors: the structural violence present in everyday family life where accusations of witchcraft against children can occur, and the symbolic violence exerted on street children, on whom the label “child witch” is often directed. On the one hand, witchcraft accusations are the consequence of increasing structural violence to which children are subjected in the sphere of family living conditions; on the other hand, the transgression of social norms by the sheges provokes the inhabitants of Lubumbashi to identify the street children with witchcraft. The data presented in this document comes mostly from socio-anthropological fieldwork carried out in Katanga between 2010 and 2012. The most significant sources of information in the research survey were the Salesian centres for street children, Bakanja Ville and Bakanja Centre, one revivalist church, and the Congolese families he visited on a regular basis.

Read full article here

Violence and witchcraft accusations against older people in Central and Western Africa: toward a new status for the older individuals?

Read full article here

 

Cannibal-witches, zombies and the making of an African modernity in the Cameroon Grassfields

Drawing on analogies between the experiences/practices of the slave-trade and of forced labor (as embodied – and transmitted – social memory), the first part of the paper argues that witchcraft discourse in postcolonial Cameroon Grassfields are a part of modernity and about modernity. This top down approach which uses modernity as an explanatory gloss is complemented in the second part of the paper with one which focuses on local concerns and attempts to understand witchcraft discourse as an arena of conflicting conceptualizations of ‘personhood’, situating both in the broader (regional) context of a ‘Grassfields ethos’ of production, consumption and exchange.

Read full article here

Egress and Regress: Pentecostal Precursors and Parallels in Northern Mozambique

Based on fieldwork among the Makhuwa of northern Mozambique, this essay explores how non-Pentecostal models of transformation shape a people’s manner of relating to Pentecostalism. Radical change has long been constitutive of Makhuwa history and subjectivity. Yet Makhuwa patterns of change, commonly conceived in terms of movement, entail regress as much as egress – circular mobilities that disrupt linear teleologies. State administrators and Pentecostal missionaries attempt to reform local inhabitants by, respectively, ‘sedentarising’ and ‘converting’ them. Deploying their historical proclivity towards mobility, those among whom I worked appear simultaneously eager to partake in resettlement schemes and reluctant to remain settled by them. I argue that their ambivalence towards Pentecostal churches and teachings, in particular, challenges two prevailing assumptions within anthropological studies of Christianity: that discontinuity is definitive, and that it is exceptional to Pentecostalism.

Read full article here

Media Analysis of Albino Killings inTanzania: A Social Work and HumanRights Perspective

Murders of people with albinism are a recently emerging human rights issue in Africa, particularly Tanzania. Thus far, public debates about albino killings inTanzania and other African countries have been dominated by media reports rather than academic writing. This paper presents the findings of a content analysis of Swahili and English Tanzanian media reports published between 2008 and 2011 onalbinism and albino murders in Tanzania, and the diverse activities that haveunfolded in response to these attacks. Using a human rights framework, the articleexplores these responses from a social work perspective. It finds that interventions are often framed with reference to African conceptions of humanness. Theseconceptions are found to be compatible with notions of human rights as relational,in which the various rights and responsibilities of different members of society areseen as interconnected. In practice however, some interventions have resulted intrade-offs between competing rights, causing further harm to victims and their  families. To become sustainable therefore, interventions should aim to support allthe human rights necessary for the well-being of Africans with albinism, their  families and communities. Further research to this effect is recommended.

 

Read full article here

Witchcraft and transnational social spaces: witchcraft violence, reconciliation and development in South Africa’s transition process

The strange collusion between occult belief systems and different trans-national social networks, embedded in specific transformations of local and global modes of production, results in unique but reinforcing modifications of witchcraft belief, its underlying structures and its impact on the process of democratisation. The amazing range of possible results has been indicated by the analysis of two outstanding examples of witchcraft violence in South Africa in times of transition: in the former homelands of Venda and Lebowa, seemingly 
‘traditional’ elements of witchcraft accusations, mediated by a mis
guided struggle for liberation, stimulated the sympathetic attention of stakeholders beyond the local setting. On the other hand, the occult base of violence in the Transkei became so blurred by involvement 
of ‘modern’ elements of globalised markets of vio
lence that it was hardly visible any more, although undercover its repressive effects were still very much alive. These different roots of witchcraft violence had serious repercussions on conflict resolution and genuine reconciliation, the base for any sustainable democratisation and development.
Read full article here

Papua New Guinea: Overview Presentation. Sorcery and Witchcraft Accusations: Developing a National Response to Overcome the Violence.

This paper draws on research that includes the torture and ill treatment of the accused sorcerers and witches. Richard Eves includes details of his fieldwork and draws on evidence from New Ireland.

See full article here

 

 

Magic and Witchcraft Implications for Democratisation and Poverty-Alleviating Aid in Africa

The belief in occult forces is still deeply rooted in many African societies, regardless of education, religion, and social class of the people concerned. According to many Africans its incidence is even increasing due to social stress and strain caused (among others) by the  process of modernization. This paper looks into how magic and witchcraft accusations work to the disadvantage of the poor and deprived, but under particular circumstances they become a means of the poor in the struggle against oppression by establishing “cults of counter-violence”.

Read more here

Albinism, Witchcraft and Superstition in East Africa

This paper looks at profuse media reports and discourse on the plight of Persons with Albinism (PWA) in East Africa in the recent times raise the question of livelihood security of a minority group. PWA constitutes a group of people that are marginalised and discriminated owing to cultural perspective of biological condition. The present study draws on the social exclusion theory to characterise the social, cultural, and economic aspects of daily life struggles among PWA in East Africa.

See full article here

‘Witch-hunting’ in India: Do We Need Special Laws?

Partners for Law in Development in Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh invetigate laws that need to be put in place to combat witchcraft accusations. The scholarly article shows the barriers in dealing with witch-hunting and related forms of violence. Mehra claims that there needs to be a focus on accountability and reform of the agencies that activate the criminal justice system.

See full article here