On the Renaissance of African Modes of Thought: The Example of Occult Belief Systems

WITCHES, WITCH-HUNTS AND MAGICAL IMAGINARIES IN MODERN AFRICA, Burghart Schmidt and Rolf Schulte, eds. pp. 40-62, Verlag Dokumentation & Buch (DOBU), Hamburg, 2007

Posted: 30 Aug 2006 Last revised: 11 Jan 2009

See all articles by Dirk Kohnert

Dirk Kohnert

GIGA - Hamburg, Institute of African Affairs

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The analysis of African occult belief systems provides a unique example for demonstrating that seemingly outdated and exotic African modes of thought, such as the belief in magic and witchcraft, are modern and have significant impact on social, economic and political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.

Keywords: African Renaissance, occult belief, rationality, rational actor

JEL Classification: Z1, Z12, Z13, N37

Suggested Citation

Kohnert, Dirk, On the Renaissance of African Modes of Thought: The Example of Occult Belief Systems. WITCHES, WITCH-HUNTS AND MAGICAL IMAGINARIES IN MODERN AFRICA, Burghart Schmidt and Rolf Schulte, eds. pp. 40-62, Verlag Dokumentation & Buch (DOBU), Hamburg, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=926972

Dirk Kohnert (Contact Author)

GIGA - Hamburg, Institute of African Affairs ( email )

German Inst. of Global and Area Studies (GIGA)
Neuer Jungfernstieg 21
D-20354 Hamburg
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://dirk2011.jimdo.com/

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