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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Who believes in witches? Institutional flux in Sierra Leone
Editor:Grijspaarde, Huib van deISNI
Periodical:African Affairs: The Journal of the Royal African Society (ISSN 1468-2621)
Geographic term:Sierra Leone
rural areas
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/23357146
Abstract:Witchcraft has been documented across the globe. The widespread occurrence of such beliefs in modern Africa affects politics, economic development, and poverty alleviation. Anthropologists have analysed the semiotics of African witchcraft, but there is less information on distributional issues. An important question is which communities are most affected, and why? Using data from a survey of 182 villages and 2,443 household heads in the Gola Forest region of eastern Sierra Leone, the authors examine three manifestations of witchcraft concerns, conflicts, and detection. They find that where patrimonial relations of agrarian production remain strong, and in settings where market forces are now well established, witchcraft is less of a concern. By contrast, witchcraft manifestations are higher in communities experiencing the competing pull of patrimonial and market norms. Witchcraft, they conclude, is a product of normative ambiguity. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]