Witches and witchcraft have captured the human imagination throughout history and across cultures, unleashing responses ranging from reverence to terror. Judging from the modern-day preoccupation with witches in popular culture and interest in folk-based spiritual traditions, it is tempting to think that humanity has progressed from the attitudes that led to the historical persecution of witches, particularly in pre-Enlightenment Europe and Colonial North American. Yet, there continue to be reports of children, women and men being killed because they are believed to be witches. Papua New Guinea, India, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Nigeria and Kenya are just some of the countries in which alleged witches have been killed since 2000. Even in nations where practitioners of witchcraft are not put to death, the ‘witch’ label is often used to disparage and undermine powerful women, such as as former US Secretary of State and Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and former British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Indeed, witches and witchcraft remain a topic of contemporary concern, both from the standpoint of bringing new perspectives and critical tools to historical case studies and ongoing conversations about human rights, power, traditional knowledge, religion and perceptions of the natural (and super-) natural world, those who are different, and complex phenomena that confound the human mind. This directs attention to considerations of the meaning of witchcraft — as understood within pagan/folk traditions and by the religious and legal traditions that supplanted pagan ways; where do our understandings of witches come from and what is at stake in the way our perceptions are shaped; whose interests are being served by accusations of witchcraft; what circumstances facilitated the persecution of people as witches; opportunities for reviving the reputation and value of witchcraft; and why witches are loved (or at least not feared) in some socio-historical moments and not others.
The Witches and Witchcraft Project provides a space for people from diverse disciplines, practices and professions to engage in inclusive interdisciplinary dialogues about the many facets of witches and witchcraft.
Witches and Witchcraft
Sunday 8th May 2022 – Monday 9th May 2022
Prague, Czech Republic
The Call for Submissions is now open.