Witchcraft, Intimacy, and Trust
Africa in Comparison
Geschiere begins in the forests of southeast Cameroon with the Maka, who fear “witchcraft of the house” above all else. Drawing a variety of local conceptions of intimacy into a global arc, he tracks notions of the home and family—and witchcraft’s transgression of them—throughout Africa, Europe, Brazil, and Oceania, showing that witchcraft provides powerful ways of addressing issues that are crucial to social relationships. Indeed, by uncovering the link between intimacy and witchcraft in so many parts of the world, he paints a provocative picture of human sociality that scrutinizes some of the most prevalent views held by contemporary social science.
One of the few books to situate witchcraft in a global context, Witchcraft, Intimacy, and Trust is at once a theoretical tour de force and an empirically rich and lucid take on a difficult-to-understand spiritual practice and the private spaces throughout the world it so greatly affects.
Introduction: The Dangers of Home—Ethnographical and Conceptual Explorations
Witchcraft: The pitfalls of a notion
Academic discourse and the dangers of a panacea notion
Witchcraft and the dangers within
Continuity and new beginnings
Intimacy and the uncanny
The struggle over trust
Witchcraft, Intimacy, and Changing Perceptions of Distance: African Examples
Changing parameters of intimacy and distance
An urban elite attacked by witchcraft
Urban witchcraft attacks the village
Witchcraft brings the village to the city
Witchcraft, distance, and the post–cold war crisis
Feymen and their magic money: Beyond kinship?
“Bushfallers,” transcontinental migration, and the stretching of kinship/witchcraft
Intimacy and new distances
To Trust a Witch
Trust: Rational, ontological, or historical?
Trust and doubt: The recourse to the nganga (healer)
Ambiguities of the nganga
Modern nganga and the fear of charlatans
A new solution: God’s work as the basis for ultimate trust
Everyday ways of coping
Comparative Perspectives I: Witches, Neighbors, and the Closure of “the House” in Europe
Historians and anthropologists on witchcraft: Rapprochements and distancing
Witchcraft and state formation: Europe and Africa
Witchcraft, proximity, and kinship in early modern Europe
An African reading
The dangers of intimacy: Neighbors or family?
Favret-Saada on the Bocage: Désorceleurs denouncing neighbors
Closing or stretching “the house”
Comparative Perspectives II: Candomblé de Bahia—Between Witchcraft and Religion
Candomblé: Commonalities with and Differences from Africa
History: From witchcraft to religion—The struggle for purity
National identity and regional politics
Feiticaria versus purity
Candomblé on the frontier: Everyday struggles against evil
Candomblé: The occult as a basis for trust?
Further Comparisons: Melanesia and Java—Ontological Differences or Aphasia before “the Uncanny”?
Africa and Melanesia: Different Ontologies?
Java: “Post-Suharto Witches” and the Uncanny
Back to Trust: New Distances, New Challenges
Witchcraft on screen: Changing parameters of intimacy and trust
Pentecostalism, the devil, and the scaling up of witchcraft
Child witches in Kinshasa: Transformations of witchcraft and kinship
Satan and the spirits in Islamic Africa
Mediation, increase of scale, and trust: African specificities
Une didactique contre la sorcellerie?