Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande Paperback
This acknowledged masterpiece has been abridged to make it more accessible to students.
In her introduction, Eva Gillies presents the case for the relevance of the book to modern anthropologists.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 304 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press
- Publication Date: 13/05/1976
- Category: Sociology & anthropology
- ISBN: 9780198740292
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Review by SweetbriarPoet
Evans-Pritchard is well known in the anthropological world as one of the most coherent theoretical writers of all time. His style of fieldwork, largely influenced by Malinowski, is so detailed and precise yet also incredibly interesting to read. His descriptions of oracular addresses and witches are all described as an Azande would describe them: Evans-Pritchard not only records observations, but takes on the persona of the people he is observing. Yet, he still understands the nuances and problems with "becoming" part of the ethnographic study. In the appendices of this book he talks solely about the art of ethnographic fieldwork. He states, "I found it useful if I wanted to understand how and why Africans are doing certain things to do them myself...But clearly one has to recognize that there is a certain pretence in such attempts at participation, and people do not always appreciate them. One enters into another culture and withdraws from it at the same time...One becomes, at least temporarily, a sort of double marginal man, alienated from both worlds.(emphasis added)" It is this theoretical concept which makes Evans-Pritchard one of the greatest anthropologists to grace the field. For his time he was relatively objective, yet saw the problem with objectivity (something modern anthropologists are still grappling with: is attempted objectivity at all productive since bias is always manifest?). He grappled with important theoretical questions, all-the-while having a crazy experiences in the field: For example, not only did he participate as a fighter in African tribal wars, he also lost all of his ethnographic fieldwork TWICE! The first time, he actually burnt it himself during WWII, afraid that Italians would find it and use it for their own purposes. Afterwards, he rewrote all his notes from memory, and had them returned home on a ship--but the ship sank! I suggest reading more about him: he was an incredibly complex man with a razor sharp mind.