The Witch Studies Reader

Editors: Soma Chaudhuri & Jane Ward

Under contract with Duke University Press

How can feminists make sense of the witch—her power and her persecution—in ways that take account of the vastly different national, political-economic, and cultural contexts in which she is currently being claimed and repudiated?  To answer this question, the proposed volume will offer a pathbreaking and field-defining transnational feminist examination of witches and witchcraft. Our aim is to solicit writing that, taken together, will hold in view multiple analytics simultaneously: the vast range of behaviors and practices that fall under the banner of witchcraft around the globe; the enduring power of the witch as a symbol of uncontrollable, mysterious, evil, excessive, failed, hyper-sexual, ugly, self-determined, barren, and aging femininity; the gendered and political-economic forces driving continued witchcraft accusations and witch persecutions in Asia and Africa; the global hierarchies and ethnocentrism that inhibit Americans’ awareness of contemporary witch hunts (and that reproduce an historical narrative placing witch hunts in the distant past); the relationship between the witch and her cultural alter egos (the curandera, the crone, the midwife, the goddess, the shaman, the priestess); and the undeniable allure of the witch, who transfixes us with her power and her hunger for revenge.