Talking it Through

Talking it Through

Responses to Sorcery and Witchcraft Beliefs and Practices in Melanesia

Edited by: Miranda Forsyth orcid, Richard Eves orcid

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Sorcery and witchcraft practices and beliefs are pervasive across Melanesia. They are in part created by, and give rise to, a wide variety of poor social and developmental outcomes. These include uneven economic development, low public health, lack of social cohesion, crime, fear and insecurity. A further very visible problem is the attacks on men and women who are accused of being practitioners of witchcraft or sorcery, which can lead to serious bodily harm, banishment and sometimes death. Today, many communities, individuals, church organisations and policymakers in Melanesia and internationally are exploring ways to overcome the negative social outcomes associated with witchcraft and sorcery practices and beliefs. This book brings together a collection of chapters written by a diverse range of authors, both Melanesian and non-Melanesian, providing crucial insights both into how these practices and beliefs are playing out in contemporary Melanesia, and also the types of interventions that are being trialled or debated to address the problems associated with them.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
May 2015
ANU Press
Pacific Series
Arts & Humanities: Cultural Studies, Philosophy & Religion; Law; Social Sciences: Anthropology, Development Studies
Pacific: Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu

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Talking it Through »

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Part 1: Social, Economic and Cultural Dimensions to the Belief in Witchcraft and Sorcery

  1. The Spread of Sorcery Killing and its Social Implications (PDF, 124KB)Jack Urame doi
  2. Sorcery, Christianity and the Decline of Medical Services (PDF, 577KB)John Cox and Georgina Phillips doi
  3. Witchcraft, Sorcery, Violence: Matrilineal and Decolonial Reflections (PDF, 165KB)Salmah Eva-Lina Lawrence doi
  4. Sorcery and Witchcraft as a Negative Force on Economic and Social Development in Solomon Islands (PDF, 744KB)Lawrence Foana’ota doi
  5. Huli Customary Beliefs and Tribal Laws about Witches and Witch Spirits (PDF, 153KB)John Himugu doi
  6. Talking Sanguma: The Social Process of Discernment of Evil in Two Sepik Societies (PDF, 189KB)Patrick F. Gesch doi
  7. The Haus Man Cleansing at Nahu Rawa (PDF, 537KB)Patrick F. Gesch and Jonathan Julius doi
  8. ‘The Land Will Eat You’: Land and Sorcery in North Efate, Vanuatu (PDF, 2.0MB)Siobhan McDonnell doi
  9. Sorcery, Poison and Politics: Strategies of Self-Positioning in South Malekula, Vanuatu (PDF, 142KB)Laurent Dousset doi

Part 2: Legal Dimensions to the Belief in Witchcraft and Sorcery

  1. The Courts, the Churches, the Witches and their Killers (PDF, 136KB)Christine Stewart doi
  2. The Western Legal Response to Sorcery in Colonial Papua New Guinea (PDF, 137KB) – Mel Keenan doi
  3.  A Pluralist Response to the Regulation of Sorcery and Witchcraft in Melanesia (PDF, 174KB) – Miranda Forsyth doi
  4. Sorcery- and Witchcraft-Related Killings in Papua New Guinea: The Criminal Justice System Response (PDF, 190KB) – Ravunamu Auka, Barbara Gore and Pealiwan Rebecca Koralyo doi
  5. Sorcery Violence in Bougainville Through the Lens of Human Rights Law: A Critical View (PDF, 3.4MB) – Mark Evenhuis doi
  6. The Belief in Sorcery in Solomon Islands (PDF, 143KB)Philip Kanairara and Derek Futaiasi doi

Part 3: Positive Directions in Overcoming Violence

  1. Kumo Koimbo: Accounts and Responses to Witchcraft in Gor, Simbu Province (PDF, 155KB)Clara Bal doi
  2. Practical Church Interventions on Sorcery and Witchcraft Violence in the Papua New Guinea Highlands (PDF, 174KB)Fr Philip Gibbs doi

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