SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article 12.1 Reinhardt, B. (2016). “Don’t make it a doctrine”: Material religion, transcendence, critique. Anthropological Theory, 16(1), 75–97. DOI: 10.1177/1463499615625012
Abstract: Once a matter of beliefs, symbols, values and worldviews, religion has progressively appeared in recent anthropological works as material religion, a highly concrete phenomenon based on affects, senses, substances, places, artifacts, and technologies. But what happened to transcendence, the dimension of religious worldmaking that remains beyond—hidden, untouched, unseen, unheard or unfulfilled? Is it necessarily the “other” of material religion, a residual category that carries no ethnographic value? Retaining an emic concern with authority and a reflexive awareness about processes of boundary making, in this article I approach material religion as a field of problematization inhabited by anthropologists and religious subjects alike. I examine some of the protocols whereby Pentecostal Christians in Ghana engage critically with the problem of materiality in their own religion and argue that this operation lends ethnographic access to the role of transcendence in material religion’s every day.

Journal Article 12.2 de Sardan, J.-P. O. (1992). The exoticizing of magic from Durkheim to “postmodern” anthropology. Critique of Anthropology, 12(1), 5–25. DOI: 10.1177/0308275X9201200101
Abstract: The projection of ethnocentric prejudices on non-Western cultures is common practice not only in positivist or classical “realist” anthropology. The recent fashion of the use of the ethnographic “I” among so-called “postmodern” anthropologists and others—the often over-dramatized story of the anthropologist’s own experiences in a faraway society—easily leads to “ethnoegocentrism.” Magic and religion seem to be favored domains in this respect. The fascination among certain anthropologists with the occult, the sacred, the esoteric and the “supernatural” tends to hide the normality and the pragmatism of many magico-religious representations and practices in African societies—the fact that these representations are part of daily life and of people’s “natural attitude.” The inevitability of the fact that the anthropologist translates from one system of meanings to another requires a break with the exoticizing stereotypes which western common sense projects on non-Western cultures.

Journal Article 12.3 Dehm, S., & Millbank, J. (2018). Witchcraft accusations as gendered persecution in refugee law. Social & Legal Studies. DOI: 10.1177/0964663917753725
Abstract: Witchcraft-related violence (WRV), in particular directed toward women and children, has become a source of increasing concern for human rights organizations in the current century. Yet for those fleeing WRV, this heightened attention has not translated across into refugee status. This research examines how claims of WRV were addressed in all available asylum decisions in English, drawn from five jurisdictions. We argue that WRV is a manifestation of gender-related harm—one which exposes major failings in the application of refugee jurisprudence. Inattention to the religious and organizational elements of witchcraft practices, combined with gender insensitivity in analysis, meant that claims were frequently reconfigured by decision makers as personal grudges, or family or community disputes, such that they were not cognizable harms within the terms of the Refugee Convention; or they were simply disbelieved as far-fetched. The success rate of claims was low, compared to available averages, and, when successful, claims were universally accepted on some basis other than the witchcraft element of the case. This article focuses in particular upon cases where the applicant feared harm as an accused witch, while a second related article addresses those fearing persecution from witches or through the medium of witchcraft.