The word witchcraft is so much associated with the symbolism of black cats and magic spells in the European tradition, that to make a sociological approach requires a special effort. There are many kinds of witchcraft. In general accusations are made where roles are ill-defined. The accusation has the effect of temporarily sharpening the definition of rights and obligations. Witches are thought to be envious, grudging, spiteful and armed with dangerous powers. It is well-enough recognised amongst anthropologists that witchcraft beliefs flourish where there is ambiguity in the patterning of roles. But many peoples can tolerate a low degree of role-definition without developing a witch-dominated cosmology. Nuer believe in ...

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