The Witch Studies Reader

The Witch Studies Reader
Call for Chapter Proposals, deadline August 1
Editors: Soma Chaudhuri & Jane Ward

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.   

Topics may include:

  • Feminist analyses of the political-economy and racial capitalism of contemporary witch hunts
  • Examination of the relationship between contemporary witch hunts and violence, embodiment, gender, and sexuality
  • Cultural studies approaches to particular witches from history, legend, or the present. Examples: Dayan and Chudail (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan); Noro (Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, Japan); Bloody Mary (United States); La Llorona (Mexico); La Siguanaba (El Salvador); Yamamba / Yama-uba (Japan); Obeah (Jamaica); Morrigan (Ireland); Cailleach (Scotland, Ireland); Yuta (Okinawa, Ryukyu Island, Japan); Miko (Japan).    
  • New and intersectional explanations for the rising popularity of witches
  • Cultural appropriation/extraction and witchcraft practices
  • Studies of witchcraft organizing, covens, and magical activism
  • The role of collective and intergenerational trauma and healing in the practice of witchcraft; witchcraft as decolonial healing
  • Global representations of witches in film and television
  • Genealogies of Black witchcraft practices (e.g., Yoruba traditions, Vodou, Hoodoo)
  • Critical feminist analyses of the uptake of divination, conjure, spellcasting, and tarot
  • Interviews with witchcraft practitioners
  • Witchcraft and ecofeminism
  • Queer and trans approaches to witchcraft
  • Witchcraft alternatives to the medical industrial complex