Court trials and subsequent executions in 1692 of nineteen accused witches in Salem are important events in America’s history that are often studied. Today, ‘Witch City’ draws over sixty thousand visitors at Hallowe’en. While members of the Pagan/Wiccan community honour the accused, well known writers – Arthur Miller and Elie Weisel – publicly acknowledge the Salem witch trials as a lesson. ‘Agents of memory’ imagine they have individual and collective affinities with Salem, the place, its people, and the historical event. These agents develop different explanations for why these events occurred and see in them disparate meanings, thereby directing, shaping and influencing the ways in which the Salem witch trials are remembered.
Penetrating “the fog of health” in a Nigerian community, 1970–2017
Too often, research into the health of a particular community is brief and superficial, focusing only on what is public and leaving the private health of women and children ‘foggy’. By contrast, long-term anthropology can offer access to processes taking place within a local culture of illness. Here, an account of a community’s experience of health over the past 50 years not only outlines the key changes as seen anthropologically but also shows how even close ethnography can initially miss important data. Furthermore, the impact of a researcher – both as a guest and as a source of interference – underlines how complex fieldwork can be in reality, especially if seen through the eyes of the researcher’s hosts.
Cotton Mather, Mercy Short, and the Origin of America's Mean Girls
In 1692, the Salem witch trials introduced perhaps the most famous early American girls-girls notoriously lambasted for instigating the death of twenty people. During that same year, Cotton Mather published Ornaments for the Daughters of Zion (hereafter referred to as Ornaments) and A Brand Pluck'd Out of the Burning (hereafter referred to as Brand). Ornaments served as a moral guidebook for Puritan girls to follow, while Brand details the possession of Mercy Short, an adolescent not directly involved with the witch trials but whose story represents the most thorough recorded account of possession that we have. These two works document the pressure exerted on colonial girls to remain silent, and help to reveal how possession gave them an outlet for the expression of their feelings. In examining them, it becomes possible to ascertain how the Puritan roots of girls' coerced silence and repressed aggression have endured into contemporary America.
Science/Religion versus Sukuma Magic
Typically, magic takes no stance against the socialized beliefs that determine it, in contrast with both science and modern religion, which, in the face of doubt, assert the truth-value of their propositions against such determination. In other words, science and religion engage in 'believed belief'. Their aversion to magical belief is the one thing they can agree on. Believed beliefs produce convictions of truth sufficiently intense to base actions on, such as the killing of someone identified as a witch. Ethnography on Sukuma healing allows us to distinguish this experience of the witch from that of oracles and magical remedies. While research in terms of belief(s) tends to oppose cultures, an approach based on experiential structures links up seemingly distinct practices from different cultures, while differentiating seemingly similar practices within a culture.
Demonic belief in Scotland has primarily been addressed in the context of the witch-trials, in which the devil appeared as an external figure that convinced morally weak people (mostly women) to renounce their baptisms, enter into a demonic pact, and commit atrocious crimes. Encountering the devil, however, could also be a very personal, internal experience that arose from the questions of sin and salvation that formed an intrinsic part of reformed Protestant piety. I propose that in order to understand the importance of the devil to early modern Scotland, and Europe more generally, we must look beyond the witch trials and the dichotomy of good versus evil and ask how early modern men and women actually experienced the devil in their daily lives. By exploring the diaries and letters of both ministers and laymen in seventeenth-century Scotland, I demonstrate that the devil was not simply an evil, non-human "Other"; for early modern Scots, the demonic represented something innate and intimate about humanity itself, serving as a constant reminder of the moral depravity man, the potential for God's wrath, and the insecurity of salvation.
Retreat into the Enchantment of the Past
C. Bawa Yamba
The article deals with two competing explanations advanced by local people in a Zambian village to make sense of the presence of man-eating crocodiles in the area. One faction explains the events in rational terms, while the other sees them as the work of witches, as a result of which they demand the return of a witchfinder, whose activities a decade ago had left 16 people dead. The article shows how the competing explanations are reflections of political rivalry between the local chieftainess and her detractors, who perceive her attempts to modernize the area as a way to line her own pocket. The rationalized versus enchanted definitions of events form the point of departure for examining some of the underlying premises of the extended-case method, namely, those of perceiving social phenomena as constituting an interrelated whole, and for determining when to close the flow of events for analysis.
Alameddine’s Appropriation of Shakespeare’s Tragedies
In I, The Divine (2001) and An Unnecessary Woman (2013), Arab American novelist Rabih Alameddine borrows lines, characters, themes, motifs and tropes from Macbeth and King Lear to portray the horrendous experiences his protagonists undergo during and after Lebanon’s fifteenyear civil war. In An Unnecessary Woman, traumatic memories of the war leave Aaliya Saleh reclusive and isolated, sharing a building with three other women whom she dubs ‘the three witches’; in I, The Divine, Sarah Nour El-Din, the youngest of three daughters of a Lebanese-American couple, feels alienated and displaced and eventually chooses self-imposed exile. Alameddine frames Aaliya’s and Sarah’s stories within narratives of chaos, anarchy and sweeping violence reminiscent of Macbeth and Lear. Reading Alameddine’s novels as appropriations of Shakespeare’s tragedies valorizes the novelist’s contrapuntal vision and demonstrates how Arab writers in diaspora, writing in English for an international readership, strategically draw on Western canonical texts to represent the experiences of Arab characters.
This article focuses on efforts to overcome the divide between state legality and local practices. It explores a pragmatic effort to deal with witchcraft accusations and occult-related violence in customary courts among the Miskitu people in Eastern Nicaragua, taking into account both indigenous notions of justice and cosmology, and the laws of the state. In this model, a community court (elected by the community inhabitants and supported by a council of elders), watchmen known as ‘voluntary police’ and a ‘judicial facilitator’ play intermediary roles. Witchcraft is understood and addressed in relation to Miskitu cultural perceptions and notions of illness afflictions, and disputes are settled through negotiations involving divination, healing, signing a legally binding ‘peace’ contract, a fine, and giving protection to alleged witches. This decreases tensions and the risk of vigilante justice is reduced. The focus is on settling disputes, conciliation and recreating harmony instead of retribution.
Ayse Serap Avanoglu, Diana Riboli, Juan Javier Rivera Andía, Annalisa Butticci, Iain R. Edgar, Matan Shapiro, Brooke Schedneck, Mark Sedgwick, Suzane de Alencar Vieira, Nell Haynes, Sara Farhan, Fabián Bravo Vega, Marie Meudec, Nuno Domingos, Heidi Härkönen, Sergio González Varela and Nathanael Homewood
Adonis, Sufism and Surrealism, 243 pp., notes, index. London: Saqi Books, 2016. Paperback, $13.56. ISBN 9780863565571.
Bacigalupo, Ana Mariella, Thunder Shaman: Making History with Mapuche Spirits in Chile and Patagonia, 304 pages, notes, bibliography, index. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2016. Paperback, $29.95. ISBN 9781477308981.
Bessire, Lucas, Behold the Black Caiman: A Chronicle of Ayoreo Life, 310 pp., halftones, notes, bibliography, index. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. Paperback, $27.50. ISBN 9780226175577.
Blanton, Anderson, Hittin’ the Prayer Bones: Materialities of Spirit in the Pentecostal South, 236 pp., notes, bibliography, index. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015. Paperback, $27.95. ISBN 9781469623979.
Bulkeley, Kelly, Big Dreams: The Science of Dreaming and the Origins of Religion, 352 pp., tables, notes, bibliography, index. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016. Hardback, $23.96. ISBN 9780199351534.
Butticci, Annalisa, African Pentecostals in Catholic Europe: The Politics of Presence in the Twenty- First Century, 208 pp., halftones, notes, index. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016. Hardback, $39.95. IS BN 9780674737099.
Cassaniti, Julia, Living Buddhism: Mind, Self, and Emotion in a Thai Community, 232 pp., illustrations, tables, glossary, references, index. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2015. Paperback, $22.95. ISBN 9780801456718.
Edgar, Iain R., The Dream in Islam: From Qur’anic Tradition to Jihadist Inspiration, 178 pp., tables, bibliography, index. New York: Berghahn Books, 2016. Paperback, $25.55. ISBN 9781785332227.
Favret-Saa da, Jeanne, The Anti-Witch, 232 pp., halftones, references, index. Chicago: HAU Books/University of Chicago Press, 2015. Paperback, $17.99. ISBN 9780990505044.
Frederick, Marla F., Colored Television: American Religion Gone Global, 256 pp., notes, bibliography, index. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016. Paperback, $25. ISBN 9780804796989.
Gadelrab, Sherry Sayed, Medicine and Morality in Egypt: Gender and Sexuality in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries, 204 pp., notes, bibliography. London: I.B. Tauris, 2016. Hardback, $99. IS BN 9781780767512.
Lindhardt, Martin, ed., New Ways of Being Pentecostal in Latin America, 284 pp., afterword, index. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016. Hardback, $90. IS BN 9780739196557.
Pat on, Diana, The Cultural Politics of Obeah: Religion, Colonialism and Modernity in the Caribbean World, 375 pp., figures, tables, bibliography, index. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Hardback, $70. ISBN 9781107025653.
Pérez, Elizabeth, Religion in the Kitchen: Cooking, Talking, and the Making of Black Atlantic Traditions, 320 pp., notes, glossary, bibliography, index. New York: New York University Press, 2016. Paperback, $28.98. ISBN 9781479839551.
Schmidt, Jalane D., Cachita’s Streets: The Virgin of Charity, Race, and Revolution in Cuba, 376 pp., notes, references, index. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015. Paperback, $26.95. ISBN 9780822359371.
Stoller, Paul, The Sorcerer’s Burden: The Ethnographic Saga of a Global Family, 209 pp., references. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. Hardback, $35. ISBN 9783319318042.
Thornton, Brendan Jamal, Negotiating Respect: Pentecostalism, Masculinity, and the Politics of Spiritual Authority in the Dominican Republic, 288 pp., notes, works cited, index. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2016. Hardback, $69.95. ISBN 9780813061689.
The Practice of’sharing’ in a New Age Variant of Umbanda
reflexive project in the late twentieth century. Similarly, Magliocco (2004: 117) notes that among the ‘Reclaiming witches’ of San Francisco, “magic [is] not waving a wand to get a desired result, but a focused process of self-examination, reflexivity, and