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Book chapter Book chapter Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Witching-times: a theme in the histories of Africa and Europe
Author:Ellis, StephenISNI
Book title:Imagining evil: witchcraft beliefs and accusations in contemporary Africa
Year:2007
Pages:31-52
Language:English
Geographic terms:Africa
Europe
Subjects:witchcraft
witch-hunting
Abstract:This chapter provides a historical perspective on the issue of witchcraft by testing the validity of the often-made comparison between witch-hunts in Africa and witchcraft persecutions in the history of Europe. Historical research shows that the comparison of Africa with Europe is problematic in many ways. In the 19th century, many African practices of divination, healing and initiation were subsumed into the category of 'witchcraft' without any deep consideration of the moral value attached to such practices within the societies where they were extant. In this way, some of the evil character inherent in the idea of witchcraft emanating from Europe's own history became attached to African practices that originally had other, less uniformly negative, associations. Recent years have seen a revival of anthropological interest in witchcraft in Africa. In brief, leading anthropologists in this field have sought to overturn the old-fashioned view that witchcraft in Africa is part of a traditional mode of thought that is fated to disappear in the face of modern life. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]
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