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Pentecostalism, Witchdemonic Accusations, and Symbolic Violence in Ghana

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Some Human Rights Concerns

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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.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Religious Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand


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