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Pentecostal Witchcraft: Neoliberal Possession and Demonic Discourse in Ivoirian Pentecostal Churches

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While Pentecostal churches derive their growing popularity in large part from their ability to combat witchcraft in society, I argue here that Pentecostalism is itself an alternative form of witchcraft discourse. As such, it falls prey to the same ambivalent relationship between power, success and social obligation that witchdoctors and politicians must face. I discuss Pentecostalism and witchcraft in terms of their relationship to neoliberal understandings of individual agency and economy in contrast to the moral economy of social obligations. At the same time I draw parallels between the ritual techniques of Pentecostalism and witchcraft cosmology, demonstrating that, despite Pentecostal churches' efforts to transcend the power of witchcraft, they in many cases become encompassed by witchcraft discourse, often taking on the appearance of witchcraft itself.

Affiliations: 1: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Department of Anthropology, 109 Davenport Hall, 607 South Matthews Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801, USA


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