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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Oracles, trauma, and the limits of contextualization: naming the witch in contemporary Kenya
Author:Blunt, Robert
Year:2013
Periodical:Journal of Religion in Africa (ISSN 0022-4200)
Volume:43
Issue:3
Pages:329-349
Language:English
Geographic term:Kenya
Subjects:magic
witchcraft
anthropology
Link:https://doi.org/10.1163/15700666-12341255
Abstract:This article revisits Terence Ranger's call for scholars of the occult in Africa to better historicize, contextualize, and disaggregate the subject. The author argues that Ranger's imperative fails to define what type of object of study the occult is and take seriously the 'aggregation' of the occult as an empirical ethnographic fact. The author suggests that 'the occult' is often experienced as both a proliferating series of oracular institutions for contending with feelings of affliction, and as invisible forces whose origin and nature are compound. The author turns to James Siegel's work on witchcraft to bring attention to the experiential dimension of the occult, and provides an extended ethnographic account of a moment in which the source, nature, and means of redress of an individual's occult affliction cannot be determined. The author argues, in line with Siegel, that historicization and contextualization, while important, risk denaturing the occult and impairing our understanding of its persistence. Bibliogr., notes, sum. [Journal abstract]
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