Witch-hunting in central Madagascar 1828-1861

TitleWitch-hunting in central Madagascar 1828-1861
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsS.D.K. Ellis
Secondary TitlePast and present
Pagination90 - 123
Date Published2002///
PublisherThe Past and Present Society
Place PublishedOxford
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsMadagascar, Merina polity, witch-hunting, witchcraft

This article concerns an extended campaign of witch-hunting in Madagascar. For the purpose of the article, the suppression of alleged witches - that is, people accused of being the human agents of a mystical force that the persecutors suppose to exist - is analysed as a form of political action. The author approaches witch-hunting in Madagascar in the first instance by defining briefly what the people concerned - the inhabitants of central Madagascar, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries - meant when they spoke of 'mosavy', a form of mystical evil generally translated as 'witchcraft'. He then proceeds by considering why massive, successive bouts of persecution of people accused of this offence took place in the mid-nineteenth century. Special attention is paid to the application of the poison ordeal under Queen Ranavalona (1828-1861). The author argues that persecutions of people deemed to be antisocial in terms of the dominant style of discourse of any particular time and place can be compared if suitable precautions are taken. [ASC Leiden abstract]


Met noten - Overdr. uit: Past and present = ISSN 0031-2746; no. 175, May 2002, p. [90]-123

Citation Key1837