The belief that illness, death and misfortune of all sorts is frequently caused by the deliberate interventions of individuals with special powers or magical knowledge is pervasive throughout Melanesia. As a result, sorcery and witchcraft beliefs and practices exert a powerful influence on many aspects of day-to-day life, as well as being significant vectors for community tensions, conflict and violence.
The chapters in this book document and discuss the ways in which different actors are addressing and exploring the different facets of the problems associated with these beliefs in Melanesia. As such, this book’s emphasis is on trying to understand what is happening, and also on the types of interventions that are being trialled and their successes and failures.
The book is structured into three parts. The chapters in Part 1 discuss the social, economic and cultural dimensions to the belief in witchcraft and sorcery. Part 2 contains a number of chapters that deal with the legal dimensions to the belief in witchcraft and sorcery. Finally, the chapters in Part 3 explore some positive ways forward in overcoming one of the most problematic aspects of sorcery and witchcraft beliefs and practices today, namely sorcery accusation-related violence.