1st Edition

Witchcraft Accusations from Central India
The Fragmented Urn

ISBN 9780367023102
Published November 23, 2020 by Routledge India
304 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations

USD $160.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

This book unravels the institutions surrounding witchcraft in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh through theoretical and empirical research on witchcraft, violence and modernity in contemporary times. The author pieces together ‘fragments’ of stories gathered utilising ethnographic methods to examine the meanings associated with witches and witchcraft, and how they connect with social relations, gender, notions of agency, law, media and the state.

The volume uses the metaphor of the shattered urn to tell the story of the accusations, punishment, rescue and the aftermath of the events of the trial of women accused of being witches. It situates the ṭonhī  or witch as a key elaborating symbol that orders behaviour to determine who the socially included and excluded are in communities. Through the personal interviews and other ethnographic methods conducted over the course of many years, the author delves into the stories and practices related to witchcraft, its relations with modernity, and the relationship between violence and ideological norms in society.

Insightful and detailed, this book will be of great interest to academics and researchers of anthropology, development studies, sociology, history, violence, gender studies, tribal studies and psychology. It will also be useful for readers in both historic and contemporary witchcraft practices as well as policy makers. 

Table of Contents

List of illustrations. 1 Scattered fragments: An introduction of sorts 2 Reflections from the field 3 The colonial project 4 Anthropology overcoming its inheritance 5 Crafting witches 6 Resolution and rupture 7 Policing witches 8 Headlines and by-lines 9 Rationality and disenchanting belief 10 Law and disorder 11 Remaking social worlds 12 Postscript. References. Index


View More



Helen Macdonald is an anthropologist with a BA, BCom and MA from the University of Otago in her native New Zealand, and a PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. She is currently Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Her research areas are witchcraft accusations in Chhattisgarh and central India, tuberculosis in South Africa and India, and understanding mining dust in southern Africa. She is the former president of Anthropology Southern Africa and now serves as the treasurer for a number of world bodies—the World Council of Anthropological Associations (WCAA), the International Union for Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) and the World Anthropological Union (WAU).