Academic Papers: Witch-hunts

Statement on Sorcery-related Killings and Impunity in Papua New Guinea

Statement-on-Sorcery-related-Killings-and-Impunity-in-Papua-New-Guinea

“Roots, Realities and Responses” Lessons learnt in tackling Witchcraft allegations against Children

SCWA Report – 2017 launch edition final

2017 as part of the Stop Child Witch Allegation series.

Researching Sorcery accusation… Miranda Forsyth

RegNet presentation 2nd version

 

Article available by link

“Sorcerer” Killings in Banyuwangi: A Re-Examination of State Responsibility for Violence

This article interrogates the operation of an assumption of state responsibility frequently found in current scholarship on violence in Indonesia. There has recently been “an up surge of interest in violence in Indonesia by the media, by NGOs, and by the academic world”. Important contributions have been made by anumber of conference panels; a special issue of the Asian Journal of Social Scienc(2006); and five recent volumes edited by Anderson (2001a), Wessel and Wimho ¨fer (2001), Colombijn and Lindblad (2002a), Hu¨sken and de Jonge (2002a), and Coppel (2005). Some of the new studies – for example, de Jonge (2002) – clearly elucidate local causes of violence and the role the state has played in attenuating this violence. Nevertheless, at times the recent literature is characterised by an assumption of the state’s responsibility for violence, and a corresponding sense that members of society are its innocent victims. This assumption operates in the discussion of other historical eras,but is most commonly presented in relation to the “New Order” regime (c.1966–98) of President Soeharto. One can find reference to “[t]he massive scale of state violence”(Wessel, 2001b, pp. 70–71) during this era, with the New Order being characterised as “among the most repressive and violent states of the twentieth century” (Barker, 2006,p. 203) or simply as a “state of violence” (Henk Schulte Nordholt, cited in Hu¨sken and de Jonge, 2002b, p. 4). The new literature appears to be driven by a well-meaning and vigilant concern not to let states off the hook. But from my perspective, two problems characterise the notion of state responsibility for violence as it is proposed in the new literature. These are addressed, respectively, in this article’s two parts.
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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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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 the Moral Economy of Agency: an ethnographic account

An ethnographic account of sorcery accusation, violence, and subsequent community discussion pro-vides a basis to explore the ‘moral economy of agency’that shapes expressions and interpretations of  personhood in Vanuatu. Mediated historically by transforming social, political, and economic circum-stances, agency is demonstrated to be patterned according to culturally specific ontological and moralschemes. Key local categories of embodied personhood – including
 man ples (man place), man wan (man one), and jelus (jealousy) – are examined to elucidate two relationally entwined analytic categories, referred to as ‘distributive’ and ‘possessive’ agency. Such categories, it is argued, fundamentally shape expressions and interpretations of moral being and doing, including by providing a basis for identifying morally abject expressions of personhood. Taking seriously the important role of spiritual agency within such moral economies, this paper provides new ethnographically grounded insights into the ways in which communities and individuals negotiate moral being within transforming contexts of economic and sacred power.
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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.

 

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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.
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Albinos’ Plight: Will Legal Methods be Powerful Enough To Eradicate Albinos’ Scourge?

In Tanzania, persons with albinism commonly known as albinos, continue to be less valued, rejected, attacked and killed for ritual purposes. In response, the police force has been arresting witchdoctors as part of a campaign against albinos’ ritual killings. Albinos are believed to possess magical powers, source of misfortunes but able make people prosperous economically and socially.  Eradication of witchcraft beliefs for long had been a concern of Africans throughout East and Central Africa. Despite harmful impact of witchcraft and witchdoctors activities, use of legal methods alone to eliminate the beliefs and practices have never been successful. Combination of legal methods and properly designed awareness creation programmes can be effective measures in  fighting against negative beliefs and attitudes towards albinos leading to their brutal attacks and killings.

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