This seminar presentation covers updated information and an analytical framework for understanding the drivers behind violence related to accusations of sorcery and witchcraft, and the types of responses being trialled to curtail the violence.

Beliefs in sorcery and witchcraft and the violence they generate across the globe are often seen as remote from modern realities, and likely to gradually dwindle of their own accord.

This is a mistake on both counts. In dozens of countries across the globe - from the United Kingdom to Nigeria to Papua New Guinea - belief in magic or the supernatural still exists, and is used to explain misfortunes of various kinds, particularly death and sickness, but also unequal economic development.

These beliefs structure the lives of individuals and communities in multiple ways, sometimes leading to out-casting or violence against those accused of having used witchcraft or sorcery to cause harm.

This talk will discuss updated data from PNG and also the actions of activists across the globe to address the issue at both the level of the United Nations and through grassroots advocacy.

About the speaker

Miranda Forsyth is a Professor at RegNet. Prior to coming to ANU, she was a senior lecturer in criminal law at the law school of the University of the South Pacific, based in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

The central analytical question animating Miranda’s scholarship is how people’s diverse justice needs can best be met in contexts of multiple legal and normative orders. Her geographical focus has been primarily in the Pacific Islands region, particularly Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

Current research projects focussing on the Pacific include the potential of Restorative Justice for the Pacific islands region, particularly in relation to gender based violence; the promise and challenges of Community Rule-Making as regulatory innovation; and a multi-year project on overcoming sorcery accusation related violence in Papua New Guinea. Miranda is also working on the development of a new agenda for Environmental Restorative Justice in both Australia and internationally.

Miranda draws creatively upon theories and methodological approaches from the disciplines of law, anthropology and criminology to interrogate these issues, working in close partnerships with Pacific islands researchers and research institutions.

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This seminar presentation will be in-person only.

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Image credit: Image of newspaper headlines related to sorcery accusations, provided by Miranda Forsyth.

Event details

Event date

Tue, 31 Oct 2023, 12:30 - 1:30pm

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