Since the pioneering studies of Evans-Pritchard among the Azande of the Sudan, the anthropological study of African witchcraft had become what Niehaus (2001) referred to as ‘a staple of anthropological research’. In the South African context, however, while witchcraft was a part of the conventional ethnographic studies of various African groups during the colonial era, in the postcolonial context witchcraft studies have to a large extent faded into the background. This is also a point echoed by Niehaus. This paper presents an argument for the rethinking of the anthropologies of witchcraft in postcolonial South Africa. Specifically, the paper focuses on the relevance of earlier conventional studies of African witchcraft as well as some of the few postcolonial studies on witchcraft. In addition, the paper suggests how these studies, representing an anthropology of witchcraft, could be combined with a new anthropology of witchcraft, that is one focusing on witchcraft-related crime. The paper is based on fieldwork data gathered in the Pondoland area of the province of the Eastern Cape, South Africa.
|Keywords:||Witchcraft, Anthropologies of Witchcraft, Witchcraft-Related Crime, Pondoland|
Lecturer in Anthropology, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa
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