Ethnographic Sorcery

Author: Harry G. West
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226894126
Release Date: 2008-09-15
Genre: Social Science

According to the people of the Mueda plateau in northern Mozambique, sorcerers remake the world by asserting the authority of their own imaginative visions of it. While conducting research among these Muedans, anthropologist Harry G. West made a revealing discovery—for many of them, West’s efforts to elaborate an ethnographic vision of their world was itself a form of sorcery. In Ethnographic Sorcery, West explores the fascinating issues provoked by this equation. A key theme of West’s research into sorcery is that one sorcerer’s claims can be challenged or reversed by other sorcerers. After West’s attempt to construct a metaphorical interpretation of Muedan assertions that the lions prowling their villages are fabricated by sorcerers is disputed by his Muedan research collaborators, West realized that ethnography and sorcery indeed have much in common. Rather than abandoning ethnography, West draws inspiration from this connection, arguing that anthropologists, along with the people they study, can scarcely avoid interpreting the world they inhabit, and that we are all, inescapably, ethnographic sorcerers.

Ethnographic Sorcery

Author: Harry G. West
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226893979
Release Date: 2007-06-01
Genre: Social Science

According to the people of the Mueda plateau in northern Mozambique, sorcerers remake the world by asserting the authority of their own imaginative visions of it. While conducting research among these Muedans, anthropologist Harry G. West made a revealing discovery—for many of them, West’s efforts to elaborate an ethnographic vision of their world was itself a form of sorcery. In Ethnographic Sorcery, West explores the fascinating issues provoked by this equation. A key theme of West’s research into sorcery is that one sorcerer’s claims can be challenged or reversed by other sorcerers. After West’s attempt to construct a metaphorical interpretation of Muedan assertions that the lions prowling their villages are fabricated by sorcerers is disputed by his Muedan research collaborators, West realized that ethnography and sorcery indeed have much in common. Rather than abandoning ethnography, West draws inspiration from this connection, arguing that anthropologists, along with the people they study, can scarcely avoid interpreting the world they inhabit, and that we are all, inescapably, ethnographic sorcerers.

Ethnographic Sorcery

Author: Harry G. West
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226893987
Release Date: 2007-05-01
Genre: Social Science

According to the people of the Mueda plateau in northern Mozambique, sorcerers remake the world by asserting the authority of their own imaginative visions of it. While conducting research among these Muedans, anthropologist Harry G. West made a revealing discovery—for many of them, West’s efforts to elaborate an ethnographic vision of their world was itself a form of sorcery. In Ethnographic Sorcery, West explores the fascinating issues provoked by this equation. A key theme of West’s research into sorcery is that one sorcerer’s claims can be challenged or reversed by other sorcerers. After West’s attempt to construct a metaphorical interpretation of Muedan assertions that the lions prowling their villages are fabricated by sorcerers is disputed by his Muedan research collaborators, West realized that ethnography and sorcery indeed have much in common. Rather than abandoning ethnography, West draws inspiration from this connection, arguing that anthropologists, along with the people they study, can scarcely avoid interpreting the world they inhabit, and that we are all, inescapably, ethnographic sorcerers.

The Sorcerer s Burden

Author: Paul Stoller
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 9783319318059
Release Date: 2016-09-24
Genre: Social Science

This book emerges from the author's 35 years of research and thought about the Songhay people of Niger. This ethnographic novel follows the life of Omar Dia, the oldest son of a West African sorcerer. When his father falls ill and dies, the great sorcerer vomits a small metal chain onto his chest. Following the path of his ancestors, Omar swallows the chain, becoming his father's successor, which means that he takes on the sorcerer's burden. The book also describes how custodians of traditional knowledge are creatively adapting to the forces of globalization—all in a highly accessible narrative text.

Kupilikula

Author: Harry G. West
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226894053
Release Date: 2005-09-05
Genre: History

On the Mueda plateau in northern Mozambique, sorcerers are said to feed on their victims, sometimes "making" lions or transforming into lions to literally devour their flesh. When the ruling FRELIMO party subscribed to socialism, it condemned sorcery beliefs and counter-sorcery practices as false consciousness, but since undertaking neoliberal reform, the party—still in power after three electoral cycles—has "tolerated tradition," leaving villagers to interpret and engage with events in the idiom of sorcery. Now, when the lions prowl plateau villages ,suspected sorcerers are often lynched. In this historical ethnography of sorcery, Harry G. West draws on a decade of fieldwork and combines the perspectives of anthropology and political science to reveal how Muedans expect responsible authorities to monitor the invisible realm of sorcery and to overturn or, as Muedans call it, "kupilikula" sorcerers' destructive attacks by practicing a constructive form of counter-sorcery themselves. Kupilikula argues that, where neoliberal policies have fostered social division rather than security and prosperity, Muedans have, in fact, used sorcery discourse to assess and sometimes overturn reforms, advancing alternative visions of a world transformed.

Beyond Rationalism

Author: Bruce Kapferer
Publisher: Berghahn Books
ISBN: 0857458558
Release Date: 2003-02-28
Genre: Social Science

This book seeks a reconsideration of the phenomenon of sorcery and related categories. The contributors to the volume explore the different perspectives on human sociality and social and political constitution that practices typically understood as sorcery, magic and ritual reveal. In doing so the authors are concerned to break away from the dictates of a western externalist rationalist understanding of these phenomena without falling into the trap of mysticism. The articles address a diversity of ethnographic contexts in Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Americas.

The Taste of Ethnographic Things

Author: Paul Stoller
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
ISBN: 0812203143
Release Date: 2010-11-24
Genre: Medical

Anthropologists who have lost their senses write ethnographies that are often disconnected from the worlds they seek to portray. For most anthropologists, Stoller contends, tasteless theories are more important than the savory sauces of ethnographic life. That they have lost the smells, sounds, and tastes of the places they study is unfortunate for them, for their subjects, and for the discipline itself. The Taste of Ethnographic Things describes how, through long-term participation in the lives of the Songhay of Niger, Stoller eventually came to his senses. Taken together, the separate chapters speak to two important and integrated issues. The first is methodological—all the chapters demonstrate the rewards of long-term study of a culture. The second issue is how he became truer to the Songhay through increased sensual awareness.

Pentecostalism and Witchcraft

Author: Knut Rio
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 9783319560687
Release Date: 2017-10-29
Genre: Social Science

This open access book presents fresh ethnographic work from the regions of Africa and Melanesia—where the popularity of charismatic Christianity can be linked to a revival and transformation of witchcraft. The volume demonstrates how the Holy Spirit has become an adversary to the reconfirmed presence of witches, demons, and sorcerers as manifestations of evil. We learn how this is articulated in spiritual warfare, in crusades, and in healing or witch-killing raids. The contributors highlight what happens to phenomena that people address as locally specific witchcraft or sorcery when re-molded within the universalist Pentecostal demonology, vocabulary, and confrontational methodology.

Email from Ngeti

Author: James H. Smith
Publisher: Univ of California Press
ISBN: 9780520959408
Release Date: 2014-09-05
Genre: Social Science

Email from Ngeti is a captivating story of sorcery, redemption, and transnational friendship in the globalized twenty-first century. When the anthropologist James Smith returns to Kenya to begin fieldwork for a new research project, he meets Ngeti Mwadime, a young man from the Taita Hills who is as interested in the United States as Smith is in Taita. Ngeti possesses a savvy sense of humor and an unusual command of the English language, which he teaches himself by watching American movies and memorizing the Oxford English Dictionary. Smith and Mwadime soon develop a friendship that comes to span years and continents, impacting both men in profound and unexpected ways. For Smith, Ngeti can be understood as an exemplar of a young generation of Africans navigating the multiplicity of contemporary African life—a process that is augmented by globalized culture and the Internet. Keenly aware of the world outside Taita and Kenya, Ngeti dreams big, with endless plans for striking it rich. As he struggles to free himself from what he imagines to be the hold of the past, he embarks on an odyssey that takes him to local diviners, witch-finders, Pentecostal preachers, and prophets. This is the fascinating ethnography of Mwadime and Smith, largely told through their shared emails, journals, and recorded conversations in the field. Throughout, the reader is struck by the immediacy and poignancy of coauthor Ngeti's narrative, which marks a groundbreaking shift in the nature of anthropological fieldwork and writing.

Obeah and Other Powers

Author: Diana Paton
Publisher: Duke University Press
ISBN: 9780822351337
Release Date: 2012-04-13
Genre: History

This collection looks at Caribbean religious history from the late 18th century to the present including obeah, vodou, santeria, candomble, and brujeria. The contributors examine how these religions have been affected by many forces including colonialism, law, race, gender, class, state power, media represenation, and the academy.

Sorcery in the Black Atlantic

Author: Luis Nicolau Parés
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226645780
Release Date: 2011
Genre: History

Roger Sansi is lecturer in anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. --Book Jacket.

Political Ethnography

Author: Edward Schatz
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226736784
Release Date: 2013-02-11
Genre: Social Science

Scholars of politics have sought in recent years to make the discipline more hospitable to qualitative methods of research. Lauding the results of this effort and highlighting its potential for the future, Political Ethnography makes a compelling case for one such method in particular. Ethnography, the contributors amply demonstrate in a wide range of original essays, is uniquely suited for illuminating the study of politics. Situating these pieces within the context of developments in political science, Edward Schatz provides an overarching introduction and substantive prefaces to each of the volume’s four sections. The first of these parts addresses the central ontological and epistemological issues raised by ethnographic work, while the second grapples with the reality that all research is conducted from a first-person perspective. The third section goes on to explore how ethnographic research can provide fresh perspectives on such perennial topics as opinion, causality, and power. Concluding that political ethnography can and should play a central role in the field as a whole, the final chapters illuminate the many ways in which ethnographic approaches can enhance, improve, and, in some areas, transform the study of politics.

Jocks and Burnouts

Author: Penelope Eckert
Publisher: Teachers College Press
ISBN: 0807770043
Release Date: 1989-01-01
Genre: Education

This ethnographic study of adolescent social structure in a Michigan high school shows how the school's institutional environment fosters the formation of opposed class cultures in the student population, which in turn serve as a social tracking system.

Not Quite Shamans

Author: Morten Axel Pedersen
Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 0801461413
Release Date: 2011-03-18
Genre: History

The forms of contemporary society and politics are often understood to be diametrically opposed to any expression of the supernatural; what happens when those forms are themselves regarded as manifestations of spirits and other occult phenomena? In Not Quite Shamans, Morten Axel Pedersen explores how the Darhad people of Northern Mongolia's remote Shishged Valley have understood and responded to the disruptive transition to postsocialism by engaging with shamanic beliefs and practices associated with the past. For much of the twentieth century, Mongolia's communist rulers attempted to eradicate shamanism and the shamans who once served as spiritual guides and community leaders. With the transition from a collectivized economy and a one-party state to a global capitalist market and liberal democracy in the 1990s, the people of the Shishged were plunged into a new and harsh world that seemed beyond their control. "Not-quite-shamans"-young, unemployed men whose undirected energies erupted in unpredictable, frightening bouts of violence and drunkenness that seemed occult in their excess- became a serious threat to the fabric of community life. Drawing on long-term fieldwork in Northern Mongolia, Pedersen details how, for many Darhads, the postsocialist state itself has become shamanic in nature. In the ideal version of traditional Darhad shamanism, shamans can control when and for what purpose their souls travel, whether to other bodies, landscapes, or worlds. Conversely, caught between uncontrollable spiritual powers and an excessive display of physical force, the "not-quite-shamans" embody the chaotic forms-the free market, neoliberal reform, and government corruption-that have created such upheaval in peoples' lives. As an experimental ethnography of recent political and economic transformations in Mongolia through the defamiliarizing prism of shamans and their lack, Not Quite Shamans is an attempt to write about as well as theorize postsocialism, and shamanism, in a new way.

In Sorcery s Shadow

Author: Paul Stoller
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226775437
Release Date: 1987-01
Genre: History

The author recounts his experiences studying to be a sorcerer among the Songhai people of Niger