Academic Papers: Juju

The killings of alleged sorcerers in south Malang: Conspiracy, ninjas, or ‘community justice’?

Around the 1999-2000 Ramadan fasting month, a series of brutal attacks and killings occurred in the villages in the southern part of the Malang regency. These attacks were a continuation of the killing of alleged sorcerers in East Java – a phenomenon that has claimed hundreds of lives since 1998. This chapter argues that the attacks in South Malang were instances of ‘community justice’, in which local communities banded together to kill supposed sorcerers.

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The War of Lions: Witch-Hunts, Occult Idioms and Post-Socialism in Northern Mozambique

The year is 2002, the place Muidumbe, northerly cradle of the Mozambican Liberation Struggle. Lions devouring people, and people lynching sorcerers suspected of magically fabricating lions, unleash a crisis that soon assumes a political dimension. Widespread rumours accuse the local post-socialist elite of manipulating a group of lion-men and engaging in organ trafficking with an international alliance of vampires. Disempowered  youth lynchers stage a paradoxical uprising. This article details the unfolding of this crisisover a year, and discusses its broader implications. Are contemporary sorcery crises adeflected effect of ‘millennial capitalism’? To what extent can occult rumours be interpreted as idioms that express political agency in metaphors? What is the role of the media and of cultural brokers in propagating rumours and crystallising collective anxieties inrecognisable forms? How is one to understand the rationality, if any, of witch-hunts? Focusing on the forms and the effects of violence, a symptomatic reading of witch-hunts reveals their linkages with Frelimo’s project of ‘total politicisation’. Finally, the article discusses a contradiction inherent in sorcery scholarship, hovering between repeating the Enlightenment’s baptismal naming of witchcraft as superstition and producing populist representations of subaltern consciousness dismissive of dramatic experiences of violence

 

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Sorcerers and Folkhealers: Africans and the Inquisition in Portugal (1680-1800)

This study is based on a survey of twenty-seven Portuguese Inquisition processes (trials) concluded against Luso-Africans in continental Portugal between 1690 and1784. All were mágicos— persons accused of magical crimes. Some were superstitious folk healers (curandei-ros or saludadores) while others were alleged to have committed different magical infractions. Together, these twenty-seven individuals account for just 6.13 percent of the total number of persons (four-hundred forty) tried for magical crimes by the Portuguese Holy Office be-tween 1679 and 1802. These cases represent the only Luso-Africans found to have been tried for magical crimes in Portugal during this period.

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Sorcery and Contemporary Warfare in Papua New Guinea’s Eastern Highlands

In the eastern districts of the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea, sorcery-related violence is mainly an inter-community affair. Sorcery beliefs in various parts of the Eastern Highlands hold that sorcery is an exclusively male domain. Furthermore, violent retribution for deaths attributed to sorcery in the Eastern Highlands is primarily directed against other communities, and not against individuals suspected of conducting sorcery. Sorcery-related violence thus has the propensity to quickly spiral out of control, escalating to large-scale inter-community warfare often causing further casualties. This state of affairs contrasts starkly with recent media portrayals of witchcraft-related killings in Papua New Guinea in which angry mobs single out usually defenceless (and often female) individual victims and torture them to death. 

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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.

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The Extent and Nature of Witchcraft-Based Violence against Children, Women and the Elderly in Malawi, April 27 2012

Many people observe that witchcraft is widely practiced in Malawi and that suspected witches are subjected to acts of violence. However, no systematic research study has been conducted to determine the extent and nature of witchcraft-based violence against children, women, and the elderly who are the most vulnerable groups. Previous reports have often been based on hearsay, and there has been no systematic analysis of the reports. The overall aim of the study was to find out the extent of witchcraft-based violence toward women, the elderly and children so that remedial measures could be prescribed.

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CORI Thematic Report Nigeria: Gender and Age, December 2012

The reports detailedly presents the issues of women, victims and persons at risk or trafficking, children, and LGBTI individuals in Nigeria, including the current conditions and promising practices. See full report here

Hunting Witches – World Policy Journal Article by WHRIN

Article by Gary Foxcroft, Executive Director, WHRIN. Read full article here