Sir Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard, FBA (21 September – 11 September ), known as Evans-Pritchard’s Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande is the first major anthropological contribution to the sociology of knowledge. Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ; ed. and intro Eva Gillies, Oxford/ Clarendon Press. Witchcraft Oracles, and Magic among the Azande. Evans-Pritchard even admits that while there he also accepted their beliefs despite often.

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Jade is a graduate of Aberdeen University in Philosophy and Anthropology and remains interested in these areas while training as a teacher. Witchcraft Oracles, and Magic among the Azande.

Oxford University Press, New York. This book explores the Azande group from Sudan, Africa and their societies relationship with beliefs and rites and the main forms these take.

amng It focuses on beliefs regarding magic and how this influences witchcravt reflects the social structure of the community. Primarily this revolves around beliefs of witchcraft and how the Azande place blame, react to and discover witchcraft and witches. Included though are the notions of sorcery, oracles and witch-doctors. These beliefs, although only one aspect of their society, are so prevalent in every-day life that the book pritchadr able to detail the important parts of Azande life and death through the study of them.

Notably in law, Princes courts were no longer the ultimate tribunal and what had been previously regarded as means of proof for Azande were disregarded by British rulers. Thus this study finds the Azande in a transient state, with some features not amlng entirely to the previous norm of society. The methods employed to study Azande culture seems to greatly differ from the majority of ethnographic studies of the time.

The approach taken was to question the people and challenge their beliefs rather than to merely observe and accept their actions thus revealing an exposition of greater detail and understanding than most before.

In doing this, not only did he discover more details and information regarding their culture, he was also able to uncover a much more coherent oraclws logical system of beliefs than would have otherwise been identified.

Throughout comparisons are drawn between Western and Azande thoughts but without putting them into opposition and giving one greater truth value than another.

Always lritchard the aim was to demonstrate that Azande were not irrational and their beliefs should not be written off out of hand, rejecting the theory of Edward Tylor that magical practice was illogical because they subverted the true cause and effect relationships.

Evans-Pritchard even admits that while there he also accepted their beliefs despite often appearing critical. The book is divided into four distinct sections headed witchcraft, oracles, witch-doctors, and magic.

Each is then presented with chapters regarding different subjects and issues relating to the topic making it clear what information is going to be gained in reading that particular section. Also included is an introduction by Eva Gillies and four appendix chapters. The introduction manages to convey to some degree how Azande culture has greatly changed since the study allowing the reader to comprehend the changes which were beginning when the study was conducted. The first topic discussed is that of witchcraft Mangu in chapters 1 to 4.

The first chapter explains how a witch is defined and what is attributed to witchcraft. It becomes obvious quickly that, although beliefs in witchcraft seem, from the Western perspective, to be irrational, the Azande perspective on it is not one of ignorance or naivety.

Rather the belief in witchcraft fits well with a social structure and has a well formed logical background to it, equal to that of our own society. Witchcraft is not due to mere lack of understanding of causation, as they withcraft well aware of the cause, they just believe that, when care was taken and taboos not broken, these unfortunate events occur as the result of witchcraft.


Chapters 5 to 7 look into the closed off practices of the witch-doctor leading to less conventional styles of ethnography. Believing information would be hidden from him, Evans-Pritchard asked his personal servant, Kamanga, to participate instead and having him recount the practices taught. Being aware of this the training witch-doctor withheld information leading Evans-Pritchard to provoke a rivalry with another witch-doctor, having each attempt to prove the other knew less. This method, although experimental, proved witchcrafr for information about the secret actions of witch-doctors.

This scepticism is revealed to not have been unfounded as a primary function of the witch-doctors surgery is revealed to be only sleight of hand.

However, it is further prittchard that Azande are themselves sceptical of this to some degree but this scepticism is most commonly explained as an individual failure of that witch-doctor. The social structure is therefore conveyed as not as a solid, trusted, ignorant view but one of rational understanding of things working and not. It is not a blind faith but one which conforms to human behaviour, understanding, and rational thought.

Each of the three main oracles used are described in detail; purpose, activities, and reliability. Primarily though evahs focus is on the poison oracle, the findings of which witcucraft regarded as witchcraf fact and primary source of court justification before British rule. The final segment of the book regards the notion of magic. The ideas of witchdraft and bad magic are sharply divided in Azande society.

Beyond the descriptions and doubts of magic the chapter continues to describe the secretive existence of closed associations arising in the first two decades of the century, particularly the mani.

These associations witchfraft to be a result of European invasion and this is reflected in the structure of the association itself. It seems that the normal customs of Azande society are opposed by these associations as convention regarding sex division and respect of elders and nobility is not the same.

The new changes to Anong society are exposed to a greater extent towards the end of the book, conveying the threat these changes posed to the beliefs and social system of the Azande.

He seems to differ from being whole heartedly immersed in the beliefs to being totally unconvinced of it having worthy substance. This though does enable the reader to see how their beliefs can be understood differently. Another briefly mentioned aspect of their beliefs is that of ghosts; it seems the Azande do have an association with ;ritchard but Evans-Pritchard fails to explain this belief at all.

It is also difficult to differentiate between when magic was and was not allowed but this could perhaps have been a otacles of the society which is merely reflected in the book. The previous methods and means of relation to witchcraft could have been detailed more fully. Also as it is unclear in some situations whether a practise is new or a well orcales, conforming tradition from before British rule.

Despite any faults, this book was the first witchcrxft truly seek the embedded understanding of magical practises and to explain the phenomena in the societies own terms, giving the Azande a greater level of respect. Evans-Pritchard also acted to reflect on his own beliefs rather than merely allowing his previous understanding to overwhelm the possibility of Azande beliefs. This is the founding of the much improved anthropological method used today.

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Review of E.E. Evans-Pritchard’s Witchcraft Oracles, and Magic Among the Azande

Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites. TMJ I’m sorry but I’m not especially sure how to help. I’d recommend looking for works from people like E. Evans Pritchard who have studied the zande tribe in the hope that they will have a written record of this type of thing. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.


As a descendant of the zande tribe, how can I find detailed different clans in zande tribe and the respect patterns between the Azande people?

E. E. Evans-Pritchard – Wikipedia

Great ananlysis of authors approach. Helped me greatly in my own assesed review of this book. Dont think it was written in pritchards book. I was taught about the book at university so it could have been told to me in a lecture or a review.

Evans Pritchard E E Witchcraft Oracles And Magic Among The Azande 1976

If it wutchcraft a review it’ll be in the bibliography. Sorry that i can’t tell you for certain as it was a while ago that i wrote it. Notably in law, Princes courts were not longer the ultimate tribunal and what had been previously regarded as means of proof for Azande were disregarded by British rulers.

Glad I could help. His ignorance was unfortunate, especially as E. Evans-Pritchard was so well renowned as an anthropologist, you would hope for greater. He did though change later in his career, realising the importance of a societies history and the surrounding events, rather than believing societies are permanent and unchanging. So, I guess if you’d confronted him with tese criticism then he’d have probably agreed with you.

Thank you for this review.

Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic Among the Azande | work by Evans-Pritchard |

I’ve read a few similar books, recently. You are so right about the author. He can’t seem to keep his own ego out of it; it’s supposed to mgaic about Africans of Sudan, but he keeps talking about Europeans and how they believe.

I have seen other researchers – even very good ones do this – and it is always unfortunate. Sometimes people who live in a region have a good reason for believing what they believe. Some natural phenomena, for example, like weather or insect behavior is confined to certain geographical locations. Other product and company names shown may be trademarks of their respective owners. HubPages and Hubbers authors may earn revenue on this page based on affiliate relationships and advertisements with partners including Amazon, Google, and others.

To provide a better website yhe, exemplore. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so. For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: Method and Structure The methods employed to study Azande culture seems to greatly differ from the majority of ethnographic studies of the time.

Witchcraft The first topic discussed is that of witchcraft Mangu in chapters 1 to 4.

Magic The final segment of the book regards the notion of magic. I just read some of this book online. It’s not very long, but it’s pretty amazing. I am really enjoying this book. Thank you for this! Accolades pritcnard vote up! This website uses cookies As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. This is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons. This is used to prevent bots and spam.

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