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Beyond Rationalism: Rethinking Magic, Witchcraft and Sorcery

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Beyond Rationalism

Rethinking Magic, Witchcraft and Sorcery

Edited by Bruce Kapferer

284 pages, 17 color photographs

ISBN  978-1-57181-418-0 $34.95/£27.95 Pb Published (February 2003)

eISBN 978-0-85745-855-1 eBook

Pb   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


"…Kapferer’s introduction is an intellectual tour de force, perhaps the most important rethinking of the problems of rationality that underlie the study of witchcraft and sorcery since Evans-Pritchard."  ·  American Anthropologist

"…teems with interesting theoretical insights, and all the chapters are particularly strong in delineating local meanings within the framework of broader processes."  ·  African Studies Review

"... shows that the discourses on 'occult economies' are multiple ... The presented essays are an excellent illustration of their variety of forms and constitute a valuable contribution to their understanding."  ·  Anthropos


This book seeks a reconsideration of the phenomenon of sorcery and related categories. The contributors to the volume explore the different perspectives on human sociality and social and political constitution that practices typically understood as sorcery, magic and ritual reveal. In doing so the authors are concerned to break away from the dictates of a western externalist rationalist understanding of these phenomena without falling into the trap of mysticism. The articles address a diversity of ethnographic contexts in Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Americas.

Bruce Kapferer is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen, Adjunct Professor at James Cook University and Honorary Professor at University College London.

Subject: Theory and Methodology Anthropology of Religion


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