Anthropology 2R03 January 17, 2013
- How is poison oracle ‘gendered’?
o Poison oracle can be used to see which wife bewitched their husband
o Co-wives don’t always get along and causes potential strain and poison oracle can
be used to see which wife is bewitching them
- Evans-pritchard observed women urinating on them to contaminate/destroy oracle which
renders it ineffective
- Male technology and can only be used by men
Patriarchal society? But men hold greater social power than women
- Witchcraft beliefs coincides with various strains in societies, stresses in societies
o Not random or logic of their own
- Q: When is it warranted to consult poison oracle?
o A: Whenever significant misfortune strikes, or when people hope to anticipate the
outcome of a major undertaking, such as a hunt or a long voyage.
o Can’t consult oracles constantly, life is too short
o Can’t guess every aspect of misfortune, can’t pursue everything
o Not worth exposing witches that affect insignificant things
- Wing of dead fowl is brought to prince (Avongara) governing district then sends deputy
to bring to accused witch to repeal their witchery
o Etiquette: person accused of witchcraft can’t deny because then it confirms that
it’s a bad witch.
o The witch has to blow water, take a sip of water and spit out mist. Called cooling
the belly in witchcraft
▯ Agree to try to mend frayed social relations o If someone died and the witch was known then sometimes the witch would be
killed or the witch would have to give blood money, compensate family of the
- Before British colonization, oracle poison was fed to suspected witch and if you die/puke
then you’re a witch. If you don’t enter convulsion or present any symptoms then you’re
not a witch.
- They don’t care who individual witches are as long as they don’t bewitch anybody.
o Normal people except they’re witches
- Function of situations of misfortune, explains misfortune and function of personal
o Function of personal relations in that it encourages people to remain on good
terms of one another
- Witches don’t bewitch people for no reason so avoid slander, don’t show off/wealth,
o Since wives can sometimes bewitch their husband they should treat their wives
o Witchcraft articulates with social dynamics and social action
- Azande believe that the older you are the more powerful your witchcraft is
o Must respect elders
o Reinforce social dynamics
- The valuable corrective to uncharitable behavior
- Are witches conscious agents?
o They’ll accept that they might be doing something unintentionally if they have
been accused of bewitching someone and they’re sure that they haven’t.
o Witches aren’t always conscious agents
Sometimes they don’t know th