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Using Ethnographic Examples Show how Anthropologists Explain Witchcraft
Lévi-Strauss believes that the assimilation of belief in witchcraft is the means of “objectivizing subjective states, of formulating inexpressible feelings, and of integrating inarticulated experiences into a system”. (Lévi-Strauss 1999: 172) And, as seen before, that is true. It seems that witchcraft is commonly used as an explanation for personal misfortune. The ideas of coincidences and accidents are substituted with witchcraft. Both Evans-Pritchard and Kluckhohn emphasize that the main function of witchcraft beliefs is that it works as an explanation and as a means to channel people’s emotions that occur from various misfortunes. (Parsons 1969: 188) Witchcraft provides solace in the face of this misfortune, it empowers people by permitting them to voice their frustrations and worries; also feelings of vengeance, malice and victimhood. Because of that, the misery because of a sickness or a loss does not have to be just endured in sadness – retaliation is possible. As Rodney Needham points out, the activities of witches provide people with answers to questions like: “Why me?” and also enables the person suffering the misfortune to do something definite, to have retaliation, a reaction. (Needham 1978: 274) All in all, most explanations about witchcraft seem to involve the idea of placing blame on somebody for your own misfortune. …
- Relationship and Cooperation between Germany and Baltic States in 1920-1940
- Using Ethnographic Examples Show how Anthropologists Explain Witchcraft
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