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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Globalization and the Power of Indeterminate Meaning: Witchcraft and Spirit Cults in Africa and East Asia
Author:Geschiere, PeterISNI
Periodical:Development and Change
Geographic term:Cameroon
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Abstract:The obsession with witchcraft in many parts of present-day Africa is not to be viewed as some sort of traditional residue. On the contrary, it is especially present in the more modern spheres of society. In a comparative, global perspective, this linking of modernity and witchcraft is not peculiar to Africa: in other parts of our globalized world, modern developments coincide with a proliferation of what Jean and John Comaroff (forthcoming) call 'the economies of the occult'. In this article, representations in south and west Cameroon of 'ekong', supposedly a novel form of witchcraft explicitly associated with modern forms of wealth, are compared to Robert P. Weller's study (1994) of the upsurge of spirit cults in Taiwan, during the recent economic boom of this 'Asian tiger'. The power of such discourses on occult forces is that they relate people's fascination with the open-endedness of global flows to the search for fixed orientation points and identities. Both witchcraft and spirit cults exhibit a surprising capacity for combining the local and the global. Both also have specific implications for the ways in which people try to deal with modernity's challenge. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum.