Witch-hunts in modern Africa and early modern Europe: A comparison

Belief in witchcraft is found across the world and in some societies alleged witches are persecuted and killed. This article explores the rise of false accusations of witchcraft and the resultant killings in South Africa in the last three decades; as many as 20 000 may have died between 2004 and 2008. The article considers these lynching’s in the light of killings associated with witch-hunts in Europe (1450–1750) focusing on the witch-hunts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In many cases, people’s credulity is abused by those who accuse others of practising witchcraft. The accusers often stand to gain in some way and exploit the vulnerability of those they accuse. This article explores witch hunts as a reaction to disaster as related to gender bias and relational problems. It shows that such persecution is difficult to control with social institutions; it is a self propagating discourse with potentially tragic results for the victims. See the full article here: witchhunts in modern africa and early modern europe

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