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African Witchcraft: Rumor, Politics, and Memory

at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

(27)
Course Details
Price:
$315
Start Date:

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Location:
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Description
Class Level: All levels
Age Requirements: 21 and older
Average Class Size: 14
System Requirements:

You will need a reliable Internet connection as well as a computer or device with which you can access your virtual class. We recommend you arrive to class 5-10 minutes early to ensure you're able to set up your device and connection.

Class Delivery:

Classes will be held via Zoom.

Teacher: Alírio Karina

Flexible Reschedule Policy: This provider has flexible, free rescheduling for any-in person workshop. Please see the cancellation policy for more details

What you'll learn in this unique class:

In Africa, and in African Studies, witchcraft is awkward. Witchcraft and sorcery practices, the belief in its power, accusations of witchcraft, and fears of witchcraft alike are sites of perpetual racial stereotyping—a stereotype that, for many Africans, is forever anxiously anticipated. In this context, witchcraft comes to operate as both a proving ground and a metaphor—for African “primitivity” or for modernity, for “superstition” or for “analysis,” for tribalist threat or for decolonial possibility. 

But witchcraft and its study are a terrain on which other things take place. Colonialism and capitalism are criticized; distant experiences of violence, and the resistance to them, are remembered. No less importantly, power and money trade hands, and various forms of social marginalization are reinscribed, sometimes violently. How might these abundant meanings of witchcraft—as practice, as rumor, as idea—be taken seriously? What might they teach us about how power has worked, and is rumored and thought to work, in Africa?

In this course, we will grapple with African witchcraft’s multiple and contested meanings by tracing several anthropological, historical, philosophical, and filmic responses to it. Engaging with the various desires that are invested into the idea of witchcraft, we will explore how they correspond to problems of historical memory and political positioning. By analyzing witchcraft alongside legacies of slavery and colonialism, and the ongoing complexities of post-independence African politics, we will explore how witchcraft becomes a means to manage difficult-to-reckon-with pasts, to confront and maneouvre contemporary politics, and to stake claims about things quite separate to witchcraft itself. 

Throughout, we will attend to the problem of the simultaneity of all of these meanings, and their inevitable conversation with Western reappraisals and revivals of practices taking this same name. Along with a screening of Rungano Nyoni’s 2017 film, I Am Not a Witch, readings will draw from the work of E. E. Evans Pritchard, J. Lorand Matory, Rosalind Shaw, Sylvia Federici, and Achille Mbembe, among others.


Remote Learning

This course is available for "remote" learning and will be available to anyone with access to an internet device with a microphone (this includes most models of computers, tablets). Classes will take place with a "Live" instructor at the date/times listed below.

Upon registration, the instructor will send along additional information about how to log-on and participate in the class.

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Refund Policy

Upon request, we will refund the entire cost of a class up until 1 week before its start date. Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to a 75% refund. After the first class: 50%. After the second: 25%. No refunds will be given after the third class.

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Reviews of Classes at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research (27)

School: Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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