Academic Papers: Witch-hunts

WHRIN 2014 Country Report: Witchcraft Accusations and Persecution in Nepal

Joint report with Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales and Forum for Protection of People’s Rights (PPR Nepal). Launched at National Women’s Commission in Kathmandu, Nepal, April 2014. See full report here

Here Be Witches! – World Policy Journal

While witchcraft may seem like a curious relic of a less scientific era, for millions across the globe, the spirit realm continues to play a significant role in day-to-day life—and sometimes with fatal consequences.  See full report here 

Ghana: Witchcraft Accusations and Freethought in Ghana

Witchcraft came about in the course of attempts by human beings to make sense of the world, to give meaning to their lives, and provide explanations of events and happenings in the world. Witchcraft is our creation and invention. Witchcraft is our idea. Witchcraft is actually our –human-craft, not the witch’s craft. But human creations can be misinformed and mistaken, human inventions can be misused and turned into weapons to tyrannize over the lives of people, or be used as tools of oppression, abuse and exploitation of vulnerable members of the population. So it iswith witchcraft. Read more here.

21st century witch hunts: Is blaming James Inhofe for causing bad weather really more sane than blaming witches in Salem or Tanzania for the same thing?

Historical records indicate that, worldwide, witch hunts occur more often during cold periods, possibly because people look for scapegoats to blame for crop failures and general economic hardship. Fitting the pattern, scholars argue that cold weather may have spurred the infamous Salem witch trials in 1692. Read more here.

African witchcraft in theological perspective

This article is a theological contribution aimed at creating an understanding of the phenomenon of witchcraft in South Africa. Witchcraft still causes major social problems in this country. Thearticle argues that the development of a culture of human rights and the improvement of the judicial process alone will not solve this problem. Witchcraft is a too deeply rooted religious phenomenon. The phenomenon is described in its religious complexity and diversity. Witchcraft is discussed within the framework of the African theodicy. Full article here.

The dangers of anonymity: Witchcraft, rumor, and modernity in Africa

This article deals with a series of rumors that spread across West and Central Africa during the last two decades. These rumors of penis snatchers, of killer mobile phone numbers,and of deadly alms constitute a transnational genre that is characteristic of Africa’s occult modernity. The article casts new light on witchcraft and the occult in contemporary Africa, and suggests new ways of tying together micro and macro levels of analysis, by grounding the wide-ranging dynamics of modernity in the minutiae of human interaction. See here

Congo: Child Witches and Witch Hunts – New Images of the Occult in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Study exploring why accusations of witchcraft have increased in DRC and have resulted in severer punitive measures taken against those accused. The thesis explores the key social and religious contributors to the child witch craze by examining historical and contemporary Congolese spirituality and life. Read more here. 

Uganda: The Azande – Witchcraft and Oracles in Africa

Article exploring the belief of witchcraft held by the Azande people in Southern Sudan. Read more here.

Ghana: What makes a woman a witch?

The following article explores how women come to be labelled as a witch.  It argues that women who do not fall under the direct “control” of a man, or are economicallysuccessful, or childless, or without appropriate familial protection, or in competition for scarce resources, can all too easily become targets for gossip and jealousy. This in turn means that in the event of some kind of community disaster, these women then bear the brunt of local projections and accusations of witchcraft. In other words, it is those who do not conform strictly enough with local patriarchal regimes who are vulnerable to such accusations. Full article here.

Religion, Democracy and Civil Society: The case of ‘witches’ in Ghana

This presentation highlights the plight of women accused of witchcraft and proposes measures which can be taken to safeguard their fundamental human rights. Read here.