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A Macat Analysis of E. E. Evans-Pritchard's Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande

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Social anthropologist Edward Evans-Pritchard wrote Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic among the Azande after 20 months’ fieldwork with the Azande people of the South Sudan. It became the founding text in the anthropology of witchcraft, and has been hailed as a classic.

Although Witchcraft had little impact when it first appeared in 1937, its popularity grew after World War II. Alongside his subsequent work on the Nuer people, Witchcraft established Evans-Pritchard’s reputation as one of the most important British anthropologists of the twentieth century. His appointment as professor at the University of Oxford was vital to the rise of its prestigious anthropology department.

Witchcraft’s influence on anthropology is still strong nearly 80 years later. It wholeheartedly supported an emerging belief in the importance of first-person fieldwork, permanently ending the library-bound anthropology favored by previous generations. Most importantly, Witchcraft transformed the anthropology of knowledge by insisting that the supernatural beliefs of “primitive” societies fulfilled both a social and a moral function.

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