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Crick argues that anthropologists should abandon the term witchcraft because its associations are determined by the history of Europe.

November 2016 – Creed of Caledon

4 posts published by creedofcaledon during November 2016

Definitions from Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828
Ethnographic studies across the globe have shown that, far from being confined to the distant past of Europe and New England, the belief in witchcraft is widely distributed in time and place—in Africa, Melanesia, the Pacific, Asia, and the Americas. These studies have raised the problem of definition. Is it possible to define witchcraft in a way that makes sense cross-culturally, while at the same time respecting the particularities of specific social settings? Is it sensible to use the term originally used to denote consorts of Satan in 16th-century England to describe contemporary causers of misfortune in a post-Socialist Tanzanian village? Do terms illuminate or distort complex realities on the ground? Are they ethnocentric? opposes the cross-cultural use of the term , whereas defends it. The most commonly accepted definition was provided in , a detailed, empathetic study of the Azande, of colonial Sudan, in which the author distinguishes between and by their technique. Evans-Pritchard defines the former as the innate, inherited ability to cause misfortune or death. For the Azande, witchcraft involves unconscious psychic powers emanating from a black swelling, located near the liver. By contrast, the Azande refer to sorcery as the performance of rituals, the uttering of spells, and the manipulation of organic substances, such as herbs, with the conscious intent of causing harm. This distinction is widespread throughout East Africa. suggests that Melanesian societies construct an alternative contrast. The author describes sorcerers as dominant persons who deliberately use rituals to impose their will and mediate cosmic power both for constructive and destructive purposes. Political leaders often possess a monopoly of sorcery skills. By contrast, Stephen characterizes witches as socially unimportant persons who harbor totally destructive powers and carry blame for misfortune and death. Their powers cannot be controlled. They are accused, denounced, and punished. But, as with so many typologies, these distinctions do not hold true of all Melanesian societies (see ); many authors therefore use the terms and more broadly, to denote both types of persons and modes of action. In this review, the word is retained only when used by authors in the original texts.

Low Latent Inhibition | SamAntics

Crick, Malcolm. 1979. Anthropologists’ witchcraft: Symbolically defined or analytically undone? Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford 10.3: 139–146.


Traditional Witchcraft Definitions | Sarah Anne Lawless

refers to a belief in the perpetration of harm by persons through mystical means. The history of witch persecutions during the European Inquisition and Reformation have colored public understandings of witchcraft beliefs in morerecent times. The most significant contribution of anthropological studies has been to show that the belief in witchcraft is encountered in nearly all continents of the world and that it continues to be an important feature of contemporary times. It is the generality of these beliefs that has attracted analytical attention. Anthropological studies have generally left open questions about the reality and actual performance of witchcraft. Instead, they have sought to unearth the social and psychological factors underlying witchcraft beliefs.