1st Edition

Magical Interpretations, Material Realities Modernity, Witchcraft and the Occult in Postcolonial Africa

Edited By Henrietta L. Moore, Todd Sanders Copyright 2002
    272 Pages
    by Routledge

    268 Pages
    by Routledge

    'Magical Interpretations, Material Realities brings together many of today's best scholars of contemporary Africa. The theme of "witchcraft" has long been associated with exoticizing portraits of a "traditional" Africa, but this volume takes the question of occult as a point of entry into the moral politics of some very modern African realities.' - James Ferguson, University of California, USA

    'These essays bear eloquent testimony to the ongoing presence and power of the occult imaginary, and of the intimate connection between global capitalism and local cosmology, in postcolonial Africa. A major contribution to scholarship that aims to rework the divide between modernity and tradition.' - Charles Piot, Duke University, USA

    This volume sets out recent thinking on witchcraft in Africa, paying particular attention to variations in meanings and practices. It examines the way different people in different contexts are making sense of what 'witchcraft' is and what it might mean.
    Using recent ethnographic materials from across the continent, the volume explores how witchcraft articulates with particular modern settings for example: the State in Cameroon; Pentecostalism in Malawi; the university system in Nigeria and the IMF in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Tanzania. The editors provide a timely overview and reconsideration of long-standing anthropological debates about 'African witchcraft', while simultaneously raising broader concerns about the theories of the western social sciences.

    1. Magical interpretations and material realities: an introduction Henrietta L. Moore and Todd Sanders 2. Delusions of development and the enrichment of witchcraft discourses in Cameroon Francis B. Nyamnjoh 3. Cannibal transformations: colonialism and commodification in the Sierra Leone hinterland Rosalind Shaw 4. Vulture men, campus cultists and teenaged witches: modern magics in Nigerian popular media Misty L. Bastian 5. Witchcraft and scepticism by proxy: Pentecostalism and laughter in urban Malawi Rijk van Dijk 6. Black market, free market: anti-witchcraft shrines and fetishes among the Akan Jane Parish 7. Betrayal or affirmation? Transformations in witchcraft technologies of power, danger and agency among the Tuareg of Niger Susan Rasmussen 8. Save our skins: structural adjustment, morality and the occult in Tanzania Todd Sanders 9. Witchcraft in the new South Africa: from colonial superstition to postcolonial Reality? Isak Niehaus 10. On living in a world with witches: everyday epistemology and spiritual insecurity in a modern African city (Soweto) Adam Ashforth 11. Witchcraft, development and paranoia in Cameroon: interactions between popular, academic and State discourse Cyprian Fisiy and Peter Geschiere


    Henrietta L. Moore is Professor of Anthropology and Todd Sanders is a Research Fellow. Both are in the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics.

    'This is a very useful collection of essays of essays discussing various aspects of beliefs and prosecutions of witchcraft in contemporary African societies.' - Anthropos