MIT21A_218JS10_lec05

MIT21A_218JS10_lec05 - DEVIANCE Read: Bourgois 174-337 I....

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DEVIANCE Read: Bourgois 174-337 I. Witches as deviant “others” A. How they are different teaches us about ourselves B. What are our ideas about witches? 1. Ugly 2. Black magic, spells 3. Do things in secret 4. Women 5. Puritain dress, ride on broomsticks, black cats, etc. C. We know all this lore, but we don’t believe in witches 1. But in our past we did a. Salem witch trials b. In the Old Testament Saul talks to a witch 2. Beliefs and accusations about witchcraft continue in parts of Normandy, or did until very recently 1 3. I have had several students in this class who definitely believed in witches a. “Shape-shifters” in the Southwest USA b. An African student who didn’t believe in them but brought in newspaper articles about witches from his home country, Nigeria 4. Such beliefs definitely don’t go away with increased modernization, urbanization, globalization a. Sometimes the incidence of accusations increases 1) This happened in Indonesia several years ago in the capital city of Jakarta 1 Jeanne Favret-Saada, “Unbewitching as therapy.” American Ethnologist 16, 1, 1989: 40-56. 7 Deviance 2008 12/14/2010
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2 D. General anthropological definition of witchcraft 1. A witch does evil and secret antisocial behavior connected with magic and the supernatural in some way 2. If it’s just evil and secret (like secretly poisoning someone), it’s not a witch 3. The word “sorcerer” is sometimes associated with witchcraft; other times it’s got a different meaning—the relationship between the two words in general is dynamic and unstable 4. This definition is more general than our folk” definition of “witch”—can serve as an analytic term for cross-cultural comparison E. Variations cross-culturally: 1. In some societies it’s possible that people don’t know they’re witches 2. But in general they do, and are malevolent—intentionally bad 3. In some societies witches choose to actively seek relationships with other witches to acquire their power a. In other societies witches are born with their power 4. Almost always witchcraft involves illegitimate power over others F. Who is a witch also varies cross-culturally 1. Age, sex, etc. 2. Who one does witchcraft against varies: kin, in-laws, strangers 3. The things a witch does varies 4. And how one is cured of being a witch or being bewitched varies II. Why do so many people believe in witches? EXERCISE: possible functions of witchcraft A. Explanations in terms of causes and maintenance 1. Types of causes:
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3 a. Material, functional, historical 2. We are concerned not so much with explaining the origins of witchcraft beliefs (historical cause) but with their maintenance 3. Notion of a causal chain very important a. Proximate, distal, final causes III. Social science explanations of witchcraft beliefs A. Social structure 1. Politics and social structure a. Political infighting explanation
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This note was uploaded on 11/06/2011 for the course ANTHRO 218 taught by Professor Jackson during the Fall '10 term at MIT.

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MIT21A_218JS10_lec05 - DEVIANCE Read: Bourgois 174-337 I....

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