Munich Personal RePEc Archive

On the Renaissance of African Modes of Thought - The Example of the Belief in Magic and Witchcraft

Kohnert, Dirk (2007): On the Renaissance of African Modes of Thought - The Example of the Belief in Magic and Witchcraft. Published in: In: Schmidt, Burghart et al (eds.): „Witchcraft in Modern Africa: Witches, witch-hunts and magical imaginaries” Band 5, Verlag Dokumentation & Buch (DOBU), Hamburg, 2007: (December 2007): pp. 39-61.

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Abstract

The analysis of African occult belief systems provides a unique example for demonstrating that seemingly outdated and exotic African modes of thought, such as the belief in magic and witchcraft, are modern and have significant impact on social, economic and political structures. Official approaches, designed to cope with the problems of witchcraft violence in Africa, have since the advent of colonial rule, been based on eurocentric views and colonial jurisdiction, legitimised by Western social science. These answers are inadequate; in fact, they constitute part of the problem itself. African religions could provide a framework for valuable indigenous solutions to actual problems of contemporary life, including the problem of witchcraft violence. Besides this, they might, under certain conditions, provide the outside world with an inspiring new dimension of philosophic thought and emancipative action for example, within the realm of conflict resolution and reconciliation. However, even in the case of the ‘domestication’ of witchcraft violence, this holds only in so far as appropriate African answers can be shielded against the negative impact of globalised liberal capitalism.

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