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How does democracy fare when the people governed insist they live in a world with witches? If the government of a people afflicted by witchcraft refuses to punish witches, how does it avoid becoming alienated from the perceived needs of its people or, worse, seen as being in league with witches? In Soweto, South Africa, the constant threat of violent crime, the increase in black socio-economic inequality, the AIDS pandemic, and a widespread fear of witchcraft have converged to create a pervasive sense of insecurity among citizens and a unique public policy problem for government. In Witchcraft, Violence, and Democracy in South Africa, Adam Ashforth examines how people in Soweto and other parts of post-apartheid South Africa manage their fear of 'evil forces' such as witchcraft. Ashforth examines the dynamics of insecurity in the everyday life of Soweto at the turn of the twenty-first century. He develops a new framework for understanding occult violence as a form of spiritual insecurity and documents new patterns of interpretation attributing agency to evil forces. Finally, he analyzes the response of post-apartheid governments to issues of spiritual insecurity and suggests how these matters pose severe long-term challenges to the legitimacy of the democratic state.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780226029740
ISBN-10: 0226029743
Format: Paperback
(230mm x 137mm x 26mm)
Pages: 376
Imprint: University of Chicago Press
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Publish Date: 1-Feb-2005
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Adam Ashforth

Adam Ashforth is visiting associate professor in the School of Social Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study. He is the author of two previous books including Madumo, a Man Bewitched, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

Books By Author Adam Ashforth

Madumo, a Man Bewitched by Adam Ashforth

Madumo, a Man Bewitched

Paperback, August 2005
$49.49