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Open Access Circumventing Uncertainty in the Moral Economy: West African Shrines in Europe, Witchcraft and Secret Gambling

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Circumventing Uncertainty in the Moral Economy: West African Shrines in Europe, Witchcraft and Secret Gambling

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This paper examines the moral economy of the African Diaspora through the illicit activities of secret Ghanaian gamblers in Europe. It follows a Ghanaian, Mr. Baba, a gambler, from North West England, who looks to the most unlikely of sources of information and certainty in a fast networked society, the Akan anti-witchcraft shrine located not in Ghana but in the eastern suburbs of Paris, as global bookmaker extraordinaire. In this environment, the anti-witchcraft shrine rather than being a traditional, obsolete relic of a superstitious past is in its supersonic element. It is able to transmit ‘hidden’ data, a valuable exchange commodity in an uncertain and insecure age, about betting odds on an infinite range of topics. At the same time, simultaneously, it protects this commodity from the grasp of witches ‐ immoral, female figures who link fraudulent facts to the relations that people have with one another.

Affiliations: 1: Keele University, School of Sociology and Criminology Keele, Staffordshire, ST5 5BG UK, Email: j.a.e.parish@appsoc.keele.ac.uk

This paper examines the moral economy of the African Diaspora through the illicit activities of secret Ghanaian gamblers in Europe. It follows a Ghanaian, Mr. Baba, a gambler, from North West England, who looks to the most unlikely of sources of information and certainty in a fast networked society, the Akan anti-witchcraft shrine located not in Ghana but in the eastern suburbs of Paris, as global bookmaker extraordinaire. In this environment, the anti-witchcraft shrine rather than being a traditional, obsolete relic of a superstitious past is in its supersonic element. It is able to transmit ‘hidden’ data, a valuable exchange commodity in an uncertain and insecure age, about betting odds on an infinite range of topics. At the same time, simultaneously, it protects this commodity from the grasp of witches ‐ immoral, female figures who link fraudulent facts to the relations that people have with one another.

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2010-01-01
2017-01-22

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