Pentecostalism, Witchdemonic Accusations, and Symbolic Violence in Ghana

Some Human Rights Concerns

in Pneuma
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The increasing numerical strength of Ghanaian pentecostalism and the movement’s involvement in filling in the socioeconomic vacuum in society means that the position of the pastor-prophet cannot be a neglected one. Yet, the extent to which human rights violations are involved in the activities of some of these pastor-prophets has raised some concerns. This article will focus on the often violent treatment of alleged witches during exorcism and explore how these challenge human rights development and implementation in Ghana. Bourdieu’s notion of habitus and symbolic violence will be applied to a discussion of human rights and Ghanaian popular deliverance-oriented pentecostal/charismatic ministries. I will argue that pentecostal/charismatic discourse on witchcraft fashions an ideological foundation for symbolic and actual violence against those accused of witchcraft.

Pentecostalism, Witchdemonic Accusations, and Symbolic Violence in Ghana

Some Human Rights Concerns

in Pneuma

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References

1

Jane Parish“Antiwitchcraft Shrines among the Akan: Possession and the Gathering of Knowledge,” African Studies Review 46 no. 3 (December 2003): 17–34. See also T.C. McCaskie “Anti-Witchcraft Cults in Asante: An Essay in the Social History of an African People” History in Africa 8 (1981): 125–154 and Jane Parish “The Dynamics of Witchcraft and Indigenous Shrines among the Akan” Africa 69 no. 3 (1999): 426–448.

2

Natasha Gray“Independent Spirits: The Politics of Policing Anti-Witchcraft Movements in Colonial Ghana, 1908–1927,” Journal of Religion in Africa 35 no. 2 (May 2005): 139–158.

5

Rosalind I.J. Hackett“Discourses of Demonization in Africa and Beyond,” Diogenes 50 no. 3 (2003): 61–75.

10

BourdieuOutline of a Theory of Practice72.

11

Pierre Bourdieu“Genèse et Structure du Champ Religieux,” Revue française de Sociologie 12 no. 3 (1971): 295–334 at 319.

12

Pierre Bourdieu“Legitimation and Structured Interest in Weber’s Sociology of Religion,” in Max Weber Rationality and Modernityed. Sam Whimster and Scott Lash trans. Chris Turner (Oxford: Routledge1987) 216.

13

Birgit Meyer“Pentecostalism, Prosperity and Popular Cinema in Ghana,” Culture and Religion: An Interdisciplinary Journal 3 no. 1 (2002): 67–87.

14

Allan Anderson“Varieties, Taxonomies, and Definitions,” in Studying Global Pentecostalism: Theories and Methodsed. Allan Anderson et al. (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press2010) 13–29.

15

Cephas N. Omenyo“A Comparative Analysis of the Development Intervention of Protestant and Charismatic/Pentecostal Organisations in Ghana,” Swedish Missiological Themes 94 no. 1 (2004): 5–22.

16

Abamfo Ofori AtiemoReligion and Inculturation of Human Rights in Ghana (New York: Bloomsbury2013) 8.

18

Natasha Gray“Witches, Oracles, and Colonial Law: Evolving Anti-Witchcraft Practices in Ghana, 1927–1932,” The International Journal of African Historical Studies 34 no. 2 (2001): 339–363.

20

Elias K. Bongmba“Witchcraft and the Christian Church: Ethical Implications,” in Imagining Evil: Witchcraft Beliefs and Accusations in Contemporary Africaed. Gerrie ter Haar Religion in Contemporary Africa Series (Trenton NJ and Asmara: African World Press 2007) 120.

22

Sasha Newell“Pentecostal Witchcraft: Neoliberal Possession and Demonic Discourse in Ivorian Pentecostal Churches,” Journal of Religion in Africa 37 no. 4 (2007): 461–490 at 472.

23

Peter GeschiereThe Modernity of Witchcraft: Politics and the Occult in Postcolonial Africa (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia1997) 205.

24

Cephas N. Omenyo“A Comparative Analysis of the Development Intervention of Protestant and Charismatic/Pentecostal Organisations in Ghana,” Swedish Missiological Themes 91 no. 1 (2006) 16.

25

Birgit Meyer“ ‘Delivered from the Powers of Darkness’: Confessions of Satanic Riches in Christian Ghana,” Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 65 no. 2 (1995): 236–255.

26

Parish“The Dynamics of Witchcraft and Indigenous Shrines among the Akan” 428.

27

Newell“Pentecostal Witchcraft” 462.

28

Ibid.463.

30

Paul GiffordGhana’s New Christianity: Pentecostalism in a Globalising African Economy (London: Hurst2004).

32

Abraham Akrong“A Phenomenology of Witchcraft in Ghana,” in Imagining Evil: Witchcraft Beliefs and Accusations in Contemporary Africaed. Gerrie ter Haar Religion in Contemporary Africa Series (Trenton NJ and Asmara: African World Press 2007) 53–66.

33

E.E. Evans-PritchardWitchcraft Oracles and Magic among the Azande (Oxford: Oxford University Press1976); Kofi Asare Opoku West African Traditional Religion (Accra: FEP International Private Ltd 1978) 143.

35

Iyke Nathan UzormaOccult Grand Master: Now in Christ (Benin City, Nigeria: Goodnews Publications1994) 43–46.

36

Akrong“A Phenomenology of Witchcraft in Ghana” 54.

37

Ibid.55.

38

UzormaOccult Grand Master9.

39

Ibid.9–10.

40

Ibid.40.

42

Terry ReyBourdieu on Religion: Imposing Faith and Legitimacy (London and Oakville: Equinox Publishing Ltd2007) 55.

43

Emmanuel Kingsley Larbi“The Nature of Continuity and Discontinuity of Ghanaian Pentecostal Concept of Salvation in African Cosmology,” Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies 5 no. 1 (2002): 99–119.

44

Newell“Pentecostal Witchcraft” 473.

45

Rosalind I.J. Hackett“Charismatic/Pentecostal Appropriation of Media Technologies in Nigeria and Ghana,” Journal of Religion in Africa 27 no. 3 (1998): 258–277.

47

UzormaOccult Grand Master36.

48

Tylor“The Politics of Recognition” 24.

49

Cephas N. OmenyoPentecost Outside Pentecostalism (Zoetermeer, Netherlands: Boekencentrum Publishing House2006) 33.

51

Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu“Anointing Through the Screen: Neo-Pentecostalism and Televised Christianity in Ghana,” Studies in World Christianity 11 no. 1 (2005): 9–28.

52

Brigit Meyer“Impossible Representations: Pentecostalism, Vision and Video Technology in Ghana” (A Working Paper, Department of Anthropology and African Studies, 2003); see also her “ ‘Make a Complete Break with the Past’: Memory and Post-Colonial Modernity in Ghanaian Pentecostalist Discourse,”Journal of Religion in Africa 28 no. 3 (1998): 316–349.

53

See Opoku Onyinah“Contemporary ‘Witchdemonology’ in Africa,” International Review of Mission 93 no. 370–371 (October 2004): 327–542 at 332.

57

ReyBourdieu on Religion54.

60

Della Russel Ocloo“Grandma Set Ablaze To Exorcise Witchcraft,” Daily GraphicNovember 29 2010.

62

Birgit Meyer“ ‘Make a Complete Break with the Past.’ Memory and Post-Colonial Modernity in Ghanaian Pentecostalist Discourse,” Journal of Religion in Africa 28 no. 3 (1998): 316–49.

64

Abraham Akrong“Neo-Witchcraft Mentality in Popular Christianity,” Research Review New Series 16 no. 1 (2000): 1–12.

65

Asamoah-Gyadu“Anointing Through the Screen” 11.

66

OmenyoPentecost Outside Pentecostalism236. See also Andrew Walker “The Devil You Think You Know: Demonology and the Charismatic Movement” in Charismatic Renewal: Search for a Theology ed. Tome Smail et al. (London: SPCK 1993) 74.

71

Abamfo O. Atiemo“Punish My Husband but Not So Hard: Religion, Customary Values and Conventional Approaches to Human Rights in Ghana,” Religion and Human Rights 7 no. 2 (2012): 71–93.

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