Accepted paper:

Violence, witchcraft and justice in Central Africa: the uncertainty of proof of guilty and innocence in witchcraft accusations (R.D. Congo, Central African Republic)

Authors:

Sylvie Ayimpam (Institut des Mondes Africains (IMAf))
Jacky Bouju ( Aix Marseille Université)

Paper short abstract:

This paper concentrates on the issues of witchcraft and spiritual beliefs. They contribute to produce imaginaries of “mystical” ways of enrichment and many kinds of violence.

Paper long abstract:

This paper will concentrate on the issues of rationality in some witchcraft affairs. It is grounded on two training programs : the first on "witchcraft, violence and criminality" for High Courts Magistrates in Central African Republic funded by the European Union (2009-2011) and the second on Conflicts and Ordinary Violence (2007-2011) funded by French Research Agency. In Central Africa, witchcraft and spiritual beliefs contribute to the production of Development imaginaries and specifically to "mystical" ways of enrichment far different from the classical premises of instrumental rationality governing international development programs. Yet, people's rationality is instrumental as they choose and implement actions that steer the future toward outcomes ranked higher in their preferences. Indeed, they maximize the convergence between their beliefs and reality and they act on these beliefs in such a manner as to maximize their chances of achieving their main goal: enrichment. But, the problem is that they are believed do so through magical beliefs and invisible actions and not through technical knowledge and visible actions as international development agencies would expect. The local theory about the mastery of these magical technics usually involves witchcraft practices that are considered by local traditions and by law as a great crime and therefore fought with greatest violence.

panel P033
Conflicts and social violence in an interconnected and uncertain world