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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Empire Strikes Back: Colonial Discipline and the Creation of Civil Society in Asante, 1906-1940
Author:Olsen, William C.
Year:2003
Periodical:History in Africa
Volume:30
Pages:223-251
Language:English
Geographic terms:Ghana
Great Britain
Subjects:healers
colonialism
healing rites
witchcraft
History and Exploration
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Health and Nutrition
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3172091
Abstract:The author introduces a scenario of colonial forms of discipline and of civil society in the Gold Coast colony (now Ghana) from 1906 to 1940. The trope is medicine and forms of ritual healing as found in dozens of named witch-finding shrines throughout the entire colony which were and continue to be sought after today in the event of illness, sterility, barrennes and spontaneous abortion. No feature of the European colonial presence was more contested than the legal suppression of these shrines. The author shows that in the nearly 40 years of colonial engagement with witch-finding movements, the British changed the content of their 'official' orientations toward these practices but their purposes of regulation and discipline remained intact. The original legal sanction of 1906, along with the amendments of 1922 and 1930, forbidding either witchcraft or witch-finding were, by 1940, unofficially revoked or suspended. By 1940 the British pursued a new course of control, that of overseeing and issuing licences to witch-finding priests and thereby legitimizing them as practitioners of alternative medicines. Traditional healing had become politically disciplined, and it was then seen as an acknowledged part of civil society in the Gold Coast. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]
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