Witchcraft in Statecraft: Five technologies of power in colonial and postcolonial coastal Kenya

This paper focuses on the production of discourse on witchcraft in relation to colonial and postcolonial statecraft in coastal Kenya. It distinguishes between two sets of terms for magical harm, the Mijikenda term ‘utsai’ and the term ‘witchcraft’, and uses this analytical distinction to draw attention to the different worlds from which ‘utsai’ and witchcraft emerge, and to frame each discourse on magical harm in terms of the political conditions of its production and use. It presents ‘witchcraft’ as a disciplinary technology with five component practices identified as ‘witchcraft technologies of power’. These technologies have wide general applicability to other colonial and postcolonial situations in Africa and can be used to illuminate both processes of State formation and the emergence of new forms of magic and the occult. The body of the paper focuses on a description of the five ‘witchcraft technologies of power’ in Southern Division, Coast Province, Kenya. It addresses the period from the late 1950s to the early 1990s and draws from field research conducted in the 1980s, 1991 and 1993. (Source: ASC Documentation).

Title: Witchcraft in Statecraft: Five technologies of power in colonial and postcolonial coastal Kenya
Author: Ciekawy, D.
Year: 1998
Periodical: African Studies Review
Volume: 41
Issue: 3
Pages: 119-141
Geographic term: Kenya
Discipline: Anthropology & Ethnology
Subject: Witchcraft
Abstract: This paper focuses on the production of discourse on witchcraft in relation to colonial and postcolonial statecraft in coastal Kenya. It distinguishes between two sets of terms for magical harm, the Mijikenda term ‘utsai’ and the term ‘witchcraft’, and uses this analytical distinction to draw attention to the different worlds from which ‘utsai’ and witchcraft emerge, and to frame each discourse on magical harm in terms of the political conditions of its production and use. It presents ‘witchcraft’ as a disciplinary technology with five component practices identified as ‘witchcraft technologies of power’. These technologies have wide general applicability to other colonial and postcolonial situations in Africa and can be used to illuminate both processes of State formation and the emergence of new forms of magic and the occult. The body of the paper focuses on a description of the five ‘witchcraft technologies of power’ in Southern Division, Coast Province, Kenya. It addresses the period from the late 1950s to the early 1990s and draws from field research conducted in the 1980s, 1991 and 1993. (Source: ASC Documentation).