Witchcraft after modernity: Old and new directions in the study of witchcraft in Africa

Johanneke Kroesbergen-Kamps


What are the current trends in the study of witchcraft in Africa? Twenty years ago, the “modernity of witchcraft” approach was very influential. Although key texts from that framework are still often cited, its heyday seems to have passed. This overview of scholarly debates about witchcraft in Africa after 2010 shows three trends: the attempt to explain witchcraft, which stands in a long anthropological history; the focus on human rights, mainly by authors from fields beyond anthropology; and, influenced by the ontological turn, efforts to take witchcraft seriously. The article gives a critical overview of these current trends in the study of witchcraft in Africa, placing them in the context of theoretical perspectives that have preceded them, as well as looking to the future.

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/711757