Search Results: the-modernity-of-witchcraft-politics-and-the-occult-in-postcolonial-africa

The Modernity of Witchcraft

Politics and the Occult in Postcolonial Africa

Author: Peter Geschiere,Janet Roitman

Publisher: University of Virginia Press

ISBN: 9780813917030

Category: Body, Mind & Spirit

Page: 311

View: 6374

To many Westerners, the disappearance of African traditions of witchcraft might seem inevitable wuth continued modernization. In The Modernity of Witchcraft, Peter Geschieres uses his own experiences among the Maka and in other parts of eastern and southern Cameroon, as well as other anthropological research, to argue that contemporary ideas and practices of witchcraft are more a response to modern exigencies than a lingering cultural custom. The prevalence of witchcraft, especially in African politics and entrepreneurship, demonstrates the unlikely balance it has achieved with the forces of modernity. Geshiere explores why modern techniques and commodities, usually of Western Provenance, have become central in rumors of the occult.

Sorcellerie et politique en Afrique

Author: Peter Geschiere

Publisher: Univ of Virginia Pr

ISBN: N.A

Category: History

Page: 311

View: 5568

To many Westerners, the disappearance of African traditions of witchcraft might seem inevitable with continued modernization. In The Modernity, of Witchcraft, Peter Geschiere uses his own experiences among the Maka and in other parts of eastern and southern Cameroon, as well as other anthropological research, to argue that contemporary ideas and practices of witchcraft are more a response to modern exigencies than a lingering cultural custom. The prevalence of witchcraft, especially in African politics and entrepreneurship, demonstrates the unlikely balance it has achieved with the forces of modernity. Geschiere explores why modern techniques and commodities, usually of Western provenance, have become central in rumors of the occult.Witchcraft is viewed as both a leveling and an oppressive force: a weapon of the weak to attack the powerful but also a tool of the powerful to maintain their position. Modern witchdoctors play a pivotal role not only in local cultures but also in stories of success and failure of state politicians, businessmen, and local football teams. Since the early 1980s they have been used as expert witnesses in state trials, helping to condemn defendants by their supposed expertise, rather than by hard evidence. The belief in witchcraft pervades all political levels: President Soglo of Benin, one of the few democratically elected on the continent, nearly missed his own inauguration because of an alleged witchcraft attack. Geschiere suggests that the African state is a true breeding ground for modern transformations of witchcraft because the ambiguity of this discourse can contain both the obsession of power and the increasing feelings of powerlessness among thepeople in the face of modern developments. There are unexpected parallels here with certain aspects of politics in Western democracies.The ease with which witchcraft has incorporated the money economy, new power relations, a

Magical Interpretations, Material Realities

Modernity, Witchcraft and the Occult in Postcolonial Africa

Author: Henrietta L. Moore,Todd Sanders

Publisher: Routledge

ISBN: 1134575572

Category: Social Science

Page: 272

View: 8954

'Magical Interpretations, Material Realities brings together many of today's best scholars of contemporary Africa. The theme of "witchcraft" has long been associated with exoticizing portraits of a "traditional" Africa, but this volume takes the question of occult as a point of entry into the moral politics of some very modern African realities.' - James Ferguson, University of California, USA 'These essays bear eloquent testimony to the ongoing presence and power of the occult imaginary, and of the intimate connection between global capitalism and local cosmology, in postcolonial Africa. A major contribution to scholarship that aims to rework the divide between modernity and tradition.' - Charles Piot, Duke University, USA This volume sets out recent thinking on witchcraft in Africa, paying particular attention to variations in meanings and practices. It examines the way different people in different contexts are making sense of what 'witchcraft' is and what it might mean. Using recent ethnographic materials from across the continent, the volume explores how witchcraft articulates with particular modern settings for example: the State in Cameroon; Pentecostalism in Malawi; the university system in Nigeria and the IMF in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Tanzania. The editors provide a timely overview and reconsideration of long-standing anthropological debates about 'African witchcraft', while simultaneously raising broader concerns about the theories of the western social sciences.

Witchcraft, Intimacy, and Trust

Africa in Comparison

Author: Peter Geschiere

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 022604775X

Category: Social Science

Page: 312

View: 3909

In Dante’s Inferno, the lowest circle of Hell is reserved for traitors, those who betrayed their closest companions. In a wide range of literatures and mythologies such intimate aggression is a source of ultimate terror, and in Witchcraft, Intimacy, and Trust, Peter Geschiere masterfully sketches it as a central ember at the core of human relationships, one brutally revealed in the practice of witchcraft. Examining witchcraft in its variety of forms throughout the globe, he shows how this often misunderstood practice is deeply structured by intimacy and the powers it affords. In doing so, he offers not only a comprehensive look at contemporary witchcraft but also a fresh—if troubling—new way to think about intimacy itself. Geschiere begins in the forests of southeast Cameroon with the Maka, who fear “witchcraft of the house” above all else. Drawing a variety of local conceptions of intimacy into a global arc, he tracks notions of the home and family—and witchcraft’s transgression of them—throughout Africa, Europe, Brazil, and Oceania, showing that witchcraft provides powerful ways of addressing issues that are crucial to social relationships. Indeed, by uncovering the link between intimacy and witchcraft in so many parts of the world, he paints a provocative picture of human sociality that scrutinizes some of the most prevalent views held by contemporary social science. One of the few books to situate witchcraft in a global context, Witchcraft, Intimacy, and Trust is at once a theoretical tour de force and an empirically rich and lucid take on a difficult-to-understand spiritual practice and the private spaces throughout the world it so greatly affects.

The Perils of Belonging

Autochthony, Citizenship, and Exclusion in Africa and Europe

Author: Peter Geschiere

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 0226289664

Category: Social Science

Page: 304

View: 7006

Despite being told that we now live in a cosmopolitan world, more and more people have begun to assert their identities in ways that are deeply rooted in the local. These claims of autochthony—meaning “born from the soil”—seek to establish an irrefutable, primordial right to belong and are often employed in politically charged attempts to exclude outsiders. In The Perils of Belonging, Peter Geschiere traces the concept of autochthony back to the classical period and incisively explores the idea in two very different contexts: Cameroon and the Netherlands. In both countries, the momentous economic and political changes following the end of the cold war fostered anxiety over migration. For Cameroonians, the question of who belongs where rises to the fore in political struggles between different tribes, while the Dutch invoke autochthony in fierce debates over the integration of immigrants. This fascinating comparative perspective allows Geschiere to examine the emotional appeal of autochthony—as well as its dubious historical basis—and to shed light on a range of important issues, such as multiculturalism, national citizenship, and migration.

Witchcraft, Violence, and Democracy in South Africa

Author: Adam Ashforth

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 9780226029733

Category: Body, Mind & Spirit

Page: 396

View: 635

Large numbers of people in Soweto & other parts of South Africa live in fear of witchcraft, presenting complex & unique problems for the government. Adam Ashforth explores the challenge of occult violence & the spiritual insecurity that it engenders to democratic rule in South Africa.

Discourses of the Vanishing

Modernity, Phantasm, Japan

Author: Marilyn Ivy

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 0226388344

Category: Social Science

Page: 277

View: 3901

Japan today is haunted by the ghosts its spectacular modernity has generated. Deep anxieties about the potential loss of national identity and continuity disturb many in Japan, despite widespread insistence that it has remained culturally intact. In this provocative conjoining of ethnography, history, and cultural criticism, Marilyn Ivy discloses these anxieties—and the attempts to contain them—as she tracks what she calls the vanishing: marginalized events, sites, and cultural practices suspended at moments of impending disappearance. Ivy shows how a fascination with cultural margins accompanied the emergence of Japan as a modern nation-state. This fascination culminated in the early twentieth-century establishment of Japanese folklore studies and its attempts to record the spectral, sometimes violent, narratives of those margins. She then traces the obsession with the vanishing through a range of contemporary reconfigurations: efforts by remote communities to promote themselves as nostalgic sites of authenticity, storytelling practices as signs of premodern presence, mass travel campaigns, recallings of the dead by blind mediums, and itinerant, kabuki-inspired populist theater.

Witchcraft and Colonial Rule in Kenya, 1900–1955

Author: Katherine Luongo

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 1139503456

Category: History

Page: N.A

View: 8121

Focusing on colonial Kenya, this book shows how conflicts between state authorities and Africans over witchcraft-related crimes provided an important space in which the meanings of justice, law and order in the empire were debated. Katherine Luongo discusses the emergence of imperial networks of knowledge about witchcraft. She then demonstrates how colonial concerns about witchcraft produced an elaborate body of jurisprudence about capital crimes. The book analyzes the legal wrangling that produced the Witchcraft Ordinances in the 1910s, the birth of an anthro-administrative complex surrounding witchcraft in the 1920s, the hotly contested Wakamba Witch Trials of the 1930s, the explosive growth of legal opinion on witch-murder in the 1940s, and the unprecedented state-sponsored cleansings of witches and Mau Mau adherents during the 1950s. A work of anthropological history, this book develops an ethnography of Kamba witchcraft or uoi.

Modernity and Its Malcontents

Ritual and Power in Postcolonial Africa

Author: Jean Comaroff

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 9780226114392

Category: Social Science

Page: 233

View: 984

What role does ritual play in the everyday lives of modern Africans? How are so-called "traditional" cultural forms deployed by people seeking empowerment in a world where "modernity" has failed to deliver on its promises? Some of the essays in Modernity and Its Malcontents address familiar anthropological issues—like witchcraft, myth, and the politics of reproduction—but treat them in fresh ways, situating them amidst the polyphonies of contemporary Africa. Others explore distinctly nontraditional subjects—among them the Nigerian popular press and soul-eating in Niger—in such a way as to confront the conceptual limits of Western social science. Together they demonstrate how ritual may be powerfuly mobilized in the making of history, present, and future. Addressing challenges posed by contemporary African realities, the authors subject such concepts as modernity, ritual, power, and history to renewed critical scrutiny. Writing about a variety of phenomena, they are united by a wish to preserve the diversity and historical specificity of local signs and practices, voices and perspectives. Their work makes a substantial and original contribution toward the historical anthropology of Africa. The contributors, all from the Africanist circle at the University of Chicago, are Adeline Masquelier, Deborah Kaspin, J. Lorand Matory, Ralph A. Austen, Andrew Apter, Misty L. Bastian, Mark Auslander, and Pamela G. Schmoll.

Bewitching Development

Witchcraft and the Reinvention of Development in Neoliberal Kenya

Author: James Howard Smith

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 0226764591

Category: Social Science

Page: 272

View: 7676

These days, development inspires scant trust in the West. For critics who condemn centralized efforts to plan African societies as latter day imperialism, such plans too closely reflect their roots in colonial rule and neoliberal economics. But proponents of this pessimistic view often ignore how significant this concept has become for Africans themselves. In Bewitching Development, James Howard Smith presents a close ethnographic account of how people in the Taita Hills of Kenya have appropriated and made sense of development thought and practice, focusing on the complex ways that development connects with changing understandings of witchcraft. Similar to magic, development’s promise of a better world elicits both hope and suspicion from Wataita. Smith shows that the unforeseen changes wrought by development—greater wealth for some, dashed hopes for many more—foster moral debates that Taita people express in occult terms. By carefully chronicling the beliefs and actions of this diverse community—from frustrated youths to nostalgic seniors, duplicitous preachers to thought-provoking witch doctors—BewitchingDevelopment vividly depicts the social life of formerly foreign ideas and practices in postcolonial Africa.

Schism and Continuity in an African Society

A Study of Ndembu Village Life

Author: Victor Witter Turner

Publisher: Manchester University Press

ISBN: 9780719010385

Category: Ethnology

Page: 348

View: 5619

Globalization and Identity

Dialectics of Flow and Closure

Author: Birgit Meyer,Peter Geschiere

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

ISBN: 9780631212386

Category: Political Science

Page: 344

View: 7556

"Globalization" and "Identity" are an explosive combination, demonstrated by recent outbursts of communalist violence in many parts of the world. Their varying articulations highlight the paradox that accelerating global flows of goods, persons and images go together with determined efforts towards closure, emphasis on cultural difference and fixing of identities. This collection explores this paradox of 'flow' and 'closure' through a series of detailed case studies in comparative perspective.

The Problem of Money

African Agency and Western Medicine in Northern Ghana

Author: Bernhard Bierlich

Publisher: Berghahn Books

ISBN: 9781845453510

Category: History

Page: 228

View: 5389

Based on long-term medical anthropological research in northern Ghana, the author analyses issues of health and healing, of gender, and of the control and use of money in a changing rural African setting. He describes the culture of medical pluralism, so typical for neo-colonial states, and people's choices of "traditional" (local) medicine (plants and sacrifices), Islamic medicine (charms and various written solutions) and "modern" therapy (biomedicine, in particular western pharmaceuticals). He concludes that the rural-urban divide is a fiction, that demarcations between these areas are frequently blurred, linked by a postcolonial, capitalist discourse of local markets, regional economies and national structures, which frequently emerge in local African settings but often originate in global and multinational markets.

Politics of Piety

The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject

Author: Saba Mahmood

Publisher: Princeton University Press

ISBN: 0691149801

Category: Religion

Page: 233

View: 6961

Politics of Piety is a groundbreaking analysis of Islamist cultural politics through the ethnography of a thriving, grassroots women's piety movement in the mosques of Cairo, Egypt. Unlike those organized Islamist activities that seek to seize or transform the state, this is a moral reform movement whose orthodox practices are commonly viewed as inconsequential to Egypt's political landscape. Saba Mahmood's compelling exposition of these practices challenges this assumption by showing how the ethical and the political are indelibly linked within the context of such movements. Not only is this book a sensitive ethnography of a critical but largely ignored dimension of the Islamic revival, it is also an unflinching critique of the secular-liberal assumptions by which some people hold such movements to account. The book addresses three central questions: How do movements of moral reform help us rethink the normative liberal account of politics? How does the adherence of women to the patriarchal norms at the core of such movements parochialize key assumptions within feminist theory about freedom, agency, authority, and the human subject? How does a consideration of debates about embodied religious rituals among Islamists and their secular critics help us understand the conceptual relationship between bodily form and political imaginaries? Politics of Piety is essential reading for anyone interested in issues at the nexus of ethics and politics, embodiment and gender, and liberalism and postcolonialism. In a substantial new preface, Mahmood addresses the controversy sparked by the original publication of her book and the scholarly discussions that have ensued.

Marginal Gains

Monetary Transactions in Atlantic Africa

Author: Jane I. Guyer

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 9780226311159

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 207

View: 3286

In America, almost all the money in circulation passes through financial institutions every day. But in Nigeria's "cash and carry" system, 90 percent of the currency never comes back to a bank after it's issued. What happens when two such radically different economies meet and mingle, as they have for centuries in Atlantic Africa? The answer is a rich diversity of economic practices responsive to both local and global circumstances. In Marginal Gains, Jane I. Guyer explores and explains these often bewildering practices, including trade with coastal capitalism and across indigenous currency zones, and within the modern popular economy. Drawing on a wide range of evidence, Guyer demonstrates that the region shares a coherent, if loosely knit, commercial culture. She shows how that culture actually works in daily practice, addressing both its differing scales of value and the many settings in which it operates, from crisis conditions to ordinary household budgets. The result is a landmark study that reveals not just how popular economic systems work in Africa, but possibly elsewhere in the Third World.

Studies in Witchcraft, Magic, War, and Peace in Africa

Author: Beatrice Nicolini

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: N.A

Category: History

Page: 383

View: 4002

This collection of essays offers opportunities towards a better understanding of African societies and their historical role in numerous political and military conflicts, and also within peace-building processes. This book broadens the focus from invocations of the supernatural in military and political mobilizations to rituals of healing in post-conflict societies.

History, Memory, and State-Sponsored Violence

Time and Justice

Author: Berber Bevernage

Publisher: Routledge

ISBN: 1136634444

Category: History

Page: 250

View: 419

Modern historiography embraces the notion that time is irreversible, implying that the past should be imagined as something ‘absent’ or ‘distant.’ Victims of historical injustice, however, in contrast, often claim that the past got ‘stuck’ in the present and that it retains a haunting presence. History, Memory, and State-Sponsored Violence is centered around the provocative thesis that the way one deals with historical injustice and the ethics of history is strongly dependent on the way one conceives of historical time; that the concept of time traditionally used by historians is structurally more compatible with the perpetrators’ than the victims’ point of view. Demonstrating that the claim of victims about the continuing presence of the past should be taken seriously, instead of being treated as merely metaphorical, Berber Bevernage argues that a genuine understanding of the ‘irrevocable’ past demands a radical break with modern historical discourse and the concept of time. By embedding a profound philosophical reflection on the themes of historical time and historical discourse in a concrete series of case studies, this project transcends the traditional divide between ‘empirical’ historiography on the one hand and the so called ‘theoretical’ approaches to history on the other. It also breaks with the conventional ‘analytical’ philosophy of history that has been dominant during the last decades, raising a series of long-neglected ‘big questions’ about the historical condition – questions about historical time, the unity of history, and the ontological status of present and past –programmatically pleading for a new historical ethics.

Madumo, a Man Bewitched

Author: Adam Ashforth

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 0226029727

Category: History

Page: 255

View: 2329

In a true story of a man bewitched, set against the turbulent backdrop of contemporary Soweto, Ashforth shows that witchcraft is not simply superstition but a complex response to spiritual insecurity in a troubling time of political and economic upheaval.

Africans

The History of a Continent

Author: John Iliffe

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 9781139464246

Category: History

Page: N.A

View: 1525

In a vast and all-embracing study of Africa, from the origins of mankind to the AIDS epidemic, John Iliffe refocuses its history on the peopling of an environmentally hostile continent. Africans have been pioneers struggling against disease and nature, and their social, economic and political institutions have been designed to ensure their survival. In the context of medical progress and other twentieth-century innovations, however, the same institutions have bred the most rapid population growth the world has ever seen. Africans: The History of a Continent is thus a single story binding living Africans to their earliest human ancestors.

The Culturalization of Citizenship

Belonging and Polarization in a Globalizing World

Author: Jan Willem Duyvendak,Peter Geschiere,Evelien Tonkens

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 1137534109

Category: Social Science

Page: 231

View: 3867

The notion of citizenship has gradually evolved from being simply a legal status or practice to a deep sentiment. Belonging, or feeling at home, has become a requirement. This groundbreaking book analyzes how 'feeling rules' are developed and applied to migrants, who are increasingly expected to express feelings of attachment, belonging, connectedness and loyalty to their new country. More than this, however, it demonstrates how this culturalization of citizenship is a global trend with local variations, which develop in relation to each other. The authors pay particular attention to the intersection between sexuality, race and ethnicity, spurred on by their awareness of the dialectical construction of homosexuality, held up as representative of liberal Western values by both those in the West and by African leaders, who use such claims as proof that homosexuality is un-African.

Find eBook