Studies in Magic, Witchcraft, War and Peace in Africa: 19th and 20th centuries

Research output: Book/ReportOther report


Magical practices aim to offer here interesting opportunities towards a better understanding not only of East African societies, but most of all, of their historical role in numerous political and military conflicts and also within peace-building processes, which represent a continuation of a topic of long-standing concern in African history. Historians took an early interest in magic and the supernatural in African warfare, especially in connection with prophetic anti-colonial resistance movements. This research extends the time period from the colonial to the post-colonial, but it also broadens the focus from invocations of the supernatural in military and political mobilization, to rituals of healing in post-conflict societies. There is a growing awareness that magic and witchcraft have played a significant role in many of the African continent’s conflicts and that resolving these conflicts requires knowledge of the role of witchcraft in sustaining warfare. From the historical, institutional and military points of view, African colonial history clashed against African magical practices and witchcraft, and, in many occasions, colonial authorities of the time did persecute major representatives of these practices, also with the use of force. African chiefs, and African dictators of contemporary African history ‘used’ magical rites and supernatural powers with the firm object of justifying their political choices and military actions, together with the obvious prerequisites of mass control. Their aims have always been, and are still today in certain cases, and in some areas, of maintaining their personal political-institutional and military power. Later on, within peace-building processes, the role of magic and witchcraft did play a significant contribution towards mediation and social security implementations.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherEdwin Mellen Press
Number of pages406
ISBN (Print)978-0-7734-5727-0
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Africa
  • Religions


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