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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Crimes of the Dream World: French Trials of Diola Witches in Colonial Senegal
Author:Baum, Robert M.ISNI
Year:2004
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies
Volume:37
Issue:2
Pages:201-228
Language:English
Geographic terms:Senegal
France
Subjects:Diola
colonialism
witchcraft
criminal law
cannibalism
witch-hunting
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Religion and Witchcraft
Link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/4129007
Abstract:The author examines the complex interplay of European and African - particularly Diola - ideas about witchcraft and cannibalism, and the particular difficulties of implementing a system of justice in the Casamance region of Senegal. He focuses on a series of trials, beginning in 1926, in which local French administrators believed they were prosecuting members of a secret cannibal society, while many Diola thought that the French were prosecuting witches. French officials believed such cannibalism occurred in a tangible world of sensory experience; Diola testimony, however, concerned crimes that occurred in the world of the spirit. The author demonstrates the difficulty of defining a crime, the consumption of human flesh, when there is no agreement between the participants as to what constitutes reality. Through the examination of Diola ideas about cannibalism and witchcraft, the oral traditions surrounding the trials, and the court transcripts themselves, it becomes clear that in most of these cases, what the administrators heard as charges of cannibalism - the eating of human flesh - were in fact accusations of witchcraft - a witch's soul eating the soul of a sleeping victim. Most of the testimony concerned a world that French administrators believed did not exist. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]
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