Thursday, March 15, 2012

Countering the Big Lies against African Traditional Religion

Below is a list of academic writings by anthropologists and other scholars who have taken up the Augean labor of sorting fact from fiction concerning the farrago of lurid stories about child sex-slaves, cannibalism, human sacrifice, albino murder, organ harvesting, etc, emanating from Africa. And then below that is another list of investigative reports that have exposed some of the hoaxes, wild exaggerations, and journalistic malfeasance behind these stories (I will probably add more items to these lists over the next day or two):
  1. ‘Child sacrifice’ in Uganda? The BBC, ‘witch doctors’ and anthropologists Pat Caplan, emeritus professor of Anthropology, Goldsmiths, University of London (published in Anthropology Today, April 2010)
  2. Bizarre Rumors, by Adam Kuper, Chair Anthropology, Brunel University, retired (published on the London Review of Books blog, January 12, 2010)
  3. Ritual Murder? Jean La Fontaine, London School of Economics (published on the Open Anthropology Collective blog, March 2 2011)
  4. Scotland yard in the bush: medicine murders, child witches and the construction of the occult: a literature review by Terence Ranger, emeritus fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford (published in the journal Africa, 2007)
  5. Imagining the Dark Continent: the Met, the media and the Thames torso by Todd Sanders, associate professor Anthropology, University of Toronto (published in Cambridge Anthropology, January 2003)
  6. Save Our Skins: structural adjustment, morality and the occult in Tanzania by Todd Sanders (published in the volume Magical interpretations, material realities: modernity, witchcraft and the occult in postcolonial Africa, Psychology Press 2001)
  7. The Fetishization of Albinos in Tanzania by Caroline Ackley, University of Chicago grad student (unpublished manuscript, December 2010)
And here are some examples of actual investigative journalism: