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Periodical article Periodical article
Title:Cleansing the Social Body: Witchcraft accusation in an African society as an example of multi-hierarchical victimage
Authors:Westerfelhaus, R.
Ciekawy, D.
Periodical:Communication Quarterly
Geographic term:Kenya
Discipline:Anthropology & Ethnology
Mijikenda - ethnic group
Abstract:As articulated by Burke, victimage arises from hierarchical tensions that occur between people who occupy different rungs of the same hierarchy. In this paper, we argue that victimage can also be a response to tensions that arise at the intersection of two or more overlapping (and possibly conflicting) hierarchies. Because those who participate in such victimage occupy different rungs of the intersecting hierarchies, their relative position with respect to one another differs from hierarchy to hierarchy. By resorting to victimage within a multi-hierarchical arrangement, we contend that people make use of resources derived from their advantageous placement in one hierarchy to better their position within another. In order to develop a model of multi-hierarchical victimage, we examine as an example of such a witchcraft accusation trial which took place among the Mijikenda of the Kenyan coast. (Journal Abstract)