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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Witch-Hunting in Central Madagascar, 1828-1861
Author:Ellis, StephenISNI
Periodical:Past and Present
Geographic term:Madagascar
Subjects:Merina polity
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
History and Exploration
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3600769
Abstract:This article concerns an extended campaign of witch-hunting in Madagascar. For the purpose of the article, the suppression of alleged witches - that is, people accused of being the human agents of a mystical force that the persecutors suppose to exist - is analysed as a form of political action. The author approaches witch-hunting in Madagascar in the first instance by defining briefly what the people concerned - the inhabitants of central Madagascar, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries - meant when they spoke of 'mosavy', a form of mystical evil generally translated as 'witchcraft'. He then proceeds by considering why massive, successive bouts of persecution of people accused of this offence took place in the mid-nineteenth century. Special attention is paid to the application of the poison ordeal under Queen Ranavalona (1828-1861). The author argues that persecutions of people deemed to be antisocial in terms of the dominant style of discourse of any particular time and place can be compared if suitable precautions are taken. [ASC Leiden abstract]