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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Policing 'evil': State-sponsored witch-hunting in the People's Republic of Bénin
Author:Kahn, Jeffrey
Year:2011
Periodical:Journal of Religion in Africa (ISSN 0022-4200)
Volume:41
Issue:1
Pages:4-34
Language:English
Geographic term:Benin
Subjects:witch-hunting
government policy
modernization
political ideologies
Link:https://doi.org/10.1163/157006611X556647
Abstract:During the 1970s and 1980s, the People's Republic of Bénin pursued a nationwide modernization project to hunt down and incarcerate the country's population of witches. State actors came to stake the core of this project on the binary opposition between retrograde witches and modern revolutionaries. However, by licensing morally ambiguous cult leaders as State-authorized witch-hunters, State actors violated the neat oppositions of their political project's modernist ideological framework and became part of the occult world they were attempting to eradicate. This article explores the use of witchcraft discourses and witch-hunting practices to organize massive, State-sponsored programmes and to define national imaginaries of progress. By examining the practices, institutions, and structures that emerged from such deployments, the article demonstrates the potentiality of witchcraft to operate as a central component of large-scale political mobilizations in the name of modernity. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]
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