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Lecture 20 Witchcraft, social action and morality.

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1 Lecture 20 Witchcraft, social action and morality

2 Kapferer: Rationality and creativity The analyst often imposes his or her own rationality Structural functionalist analysis – translating the irrational into the rational

3 John Middleton: Lugbara witchcraft Inherent power – evoked by jealousy or hostility Witchcraft vs. invocation of the ancestors Witchcraft follows the dynamics of social tensions Witchcraft is not real, but suspicions and accusations are Refusal to study local practice in its own terms.

4 Magic as a source of knowledge Need to bracket off local practice from Western conceptions of rationality Creative - not part of a bounded, coherent system of knowledge Sorcery and witchcraft are metacosmologies Create new knowledge and understanding Address the pragmatic, immediately felt issues

5 Isak Niehaus: Zombies in South Africa Witchcraft and sorcery is deeply ambiguous Three aspects of witchcraft: –discourse or moral commentary –a mode of social action –subjective experience

6 Narratives of zombies as discourse Satire or commentary on the prevailing experience of domination Objectify power relations Metaphorically witches possess the same attributes as white employers Imagery recalls the experience of slavery and migrant labour Reflects upon the dependence of dominated persons

7 Accusations as social action The ambiguity of witchcraft In actuality those most often accused were subordinate, elderly, and poorer persons Accusers were primarily members of relatively better-off households Accusers feared witches would capture their descendents Explains how the poor managed to survive

8 The subjective reality of zombies Witches and zombies are omnipresent but unseen Constructed complex webs of evidence: Dreams and hallucinations Personal experience of death Prophesy Rumours Local cultural imagination

9 Indeterminacy Power and appeal of witchcraft Allows for inconsistencies and alternative interpretations No single hegemonic interpretation

10 Nils Bubant: Sorcery and corruption in Indonesia Ambivalance: –Both hidden and immoral –Simultaneously reprehensible and inescapable Success in democratic politics is itself magical Corruption or mutual help? Illegitimate knowledge or protective magic? Condemned but at the heart of ones own practice

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