Fundamentalism and its moral geography in Malawi : the representation of the diasporic and the diabolical

TitleFundamentalism and its moral geography in Malawi : the representation of the diasporic and the diabolical
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsR.A. van Dijk
Secondary TitleCritique of anthropology
Pagination171 - 191
Date Published1995///
Place PublishedLondon [etc.]
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsAfrican Independent Churches, Malawi, witchcraft

Moral geographies of antiwitchcraft campaigns may be constructed from quite different vantage points and ideological programmes, as well as working upon quite diverse sets of relationships between the traditional and the modern, the young and the old, the diasporic and the diabolical. One vantage point is the village, and the moral geography that is constructed can be interpreted as a way of coming to grips with a partially apprehended modern world. The present author takes the urban world as point of departure in his analysis of the Abadwa Mwatsopano (Born-Agains), a Christian fundamentalist movement whose preachers operate specifically from the three larger cities of Malawi. For the young urban Born-Again preachers, it is the village world which is largely strange and estranging, only partially comprehensible, and threatening. It is not the 'tarmac' leading to the urban world which is the symbol of hope and despair for this younger generation, but witchcraft-related esoteric objects such as the 'zitumwa', that lead back to the village world and that are seen to jeopardize their frail independence in town. The 'crusade' is a counterattack against the evil forces emanating from the 'village' and a way of contesting the gerontocratic authority of the elderly in religious terms

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