The Notion Of Witchcraft Explains Unfortunate Events: Analysis

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In The Notion of Witchcraft Explains Unfortunate Events, E.E. Evans-Pritchard discusses one case study about the time he spent with the Azande tribe and what he learned about them and their interpretations of magic and witchcraft. Evans-Pritchard describes that the Zande have a philosophy that can easily be described by the following metaphor: witchcraft is the umbaga (or second spear) meaning that the Azande people use witchcraft to complement their understanding of reality (The Notion of Witchcraft 25). The author then offers a point of contrast by speaking about the “we” of Western society and how we differ from the Azande people. In Structural Anthropology, Claude Levi-Strauss provides multiple different ethnographic vignettes that attempt …show more content…
According to Levi-Strauss, “[The shamanistic complex] has three complementary aspects: first, the sorcerer’s belief in the effectiveness of his techniques; second, the patient’s or victim’s belief in the sorcerer’s power; and, finally, the faith and expectations of the group.” (The Sorcerer and His Magic 168). Levi-Strauss’s comparative approach to the study of magic allows him to develop the shamanistic complex as a concept that works cross-culturally. For example, in all three of the ethnographic vignettes that the author analyzes in The Sorcerer and His Magic, each and every aspect of the shamanistic complex can be seen and further analyzed to provide a deeper understanding of magic across many different cultures. Therefore, Levi-Strauss’s theory of magic can account and thoroughly explain Evans-Pritchard’s study of magic and the Azande. However, because Evans-Pritchard focuses only on one case study, his theory would not be able to explain Levi-Strauss’s study of magic and his findings about magic would be limited to the Azande people and not be valid for any other cultures, revealing a drawback to Evans-Pritchard’s approach to the study of …show more content…
Evans-Pritchard and Claude Levi-Strauss present valid ethnographies and analyses of these ethnographies in their writings about the study of magic and witchcraft. Evans-Pritchard, on one hand, only uses one ethnography in his work, whereas Levi-Strauss uses three. There are strengths and weaknesses to each author’s strategy here. By only using one case study, Evans-Pritchard can delve deeper into the meaning of magic. Moreover, he physically immersed himself into the culture that he was studying, the Azande tribe, giving him a more comprehensive understanding of his field of research. However, Evans-Pritchard’s study only allows us to look at the Azande people; we cannot truly apply his theory to any other magic-practicing culture in the world. Levi-Strauss has three ethnographies, which gives a more comprehensive scope to his work and a cross-cultural connection that can more easily be applied to any society that practices magic or witchcraft, but because he did not go out into the world and study these cultures firsthand, Levi-Strauss is rather limited in the analyses he makes and the conclusions he draws about the function of magic and

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