Evans Pritchard

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In 1926 E.E. Evans Pritchard, a highly regarded English anthropologist, began his first fieldwork study among the Azande, a people from the upper Nile area in Sudan, Africa. As a colonial anthropologist, Evans-Pritchard arrived among the Azande with certain assumptions of what he would find based on the biased social climate in England and the common belief that the peoples in places like Sudan were savages. What he found in Zandeland was a foreign, but fairly open people from who he learned much from. Evans-Pritchard was particularly fascinated with the Azande’s practices of witchcraft which led him to stay for an extended amount of time with them as well as served as the aim for his famous work Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande,. …show more content…
However, It was when he discovered the presence of the closed associations that he encountered the challenges in the observation, as these groups are only open to members. He noted that these closed groups showed all the qualities of associations; organization, leadership, grades, fees, rites of initiation; esoteric vocabulary and greetings, and so forth (Evans-Pritchard 205). While witchcraft was part of the everyday life of the Azande, practicing it in closed associations among initiated members only was a new practice for them, one that Evans-Pritchard firmly believed was a result of influence of European associations and the conquest. These closed associations stood for much more than just a new activity within Azande society, they were indicative of wide and deep social change (Evans-Pritchard 205). The associations were different than usual Azande groupings. The most notable social change was new gender roles for men and women within the association. Men and women were essentially equal, especially notable is the fact that women were allowed to sponsor male initiates. Evans-Pritchard backs up his theory with evidence that no associations formed any part of Zande culture in the Sudan even forty years prior (Evans-Pritchard 205). He conducted his fieldwork specifically within the closed association of Mani. He acquired his information from two types of informants: laymen (non-members) and members, and by joining the group himself and observing the meetings. He engaged in participant observation, which was problematic due to the illegal status of the closed associations as declared by the ethnocentric government of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. This government outlawed the groups because they were judging the associations solely by the values and standards of

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