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  • Book
  • Open Access
  • © 2017

Pentecostalism and Witchcraft

Spiritual Warfare in Africa and Melanesia

Palgrave Macmillan
  • Juxtaposes case studies from Melanesia and Africa in order to better compare, contrast, and illuminate the effects of and engagements with Pentecostalism

  • Focuses on chief themes of Pentecostalism and witchcraft while also bringing in discussions of globalization, visibility, movements of capital, and embodiment

  • Presents rich and detailed case studies while also offering up wide-ranging theoretical analyses and critiques of established thinking/concepts

  • Includes supplementary material:

Part of the book series: Contemporary Anthropology of Religion (CAR)

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 31.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 31.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Table of contents (13 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xi
  2. Introduction to Pentecostal Witchcraft and Spiritual Politics in Africa and Melanesia

    • Knut Rio, Michelle MacCarthy, Ruy Blanes
    Pages 1-36Open Access
  3. Learning to Believe in Papua New Guinea

    • Barbara Andersen
    Pages 235-255Open Access
  4. Afterword: From Witchcraft to the Pentecostal-Witchcraft Nexus

    • Aletta Biersack
    Pages 293-305Open Access
  5. Back Matter

    Pages 307-311

About this book

This open access book presents fresh ethnographic work from the regions of Africa and Melanesia—where the popularity of charismatic Christianity can be linked to a revival and transformation of witchcraft. The volume demonstrates how the Holy Spirit has become an adversary to the reconfirmed presence of witches, demons, and sorcerers as manifestations of evil. We learn how this is articulated in spiritual warfare, in crusades, and in healing or witch-killing raids. The contributors highlight what happens to phenomena that people address as locally specific witchcraft or sorcery when re-molded within the universalist Pentecostal demonology, vocabulary, and confrontational methodology. 


  • Charismatic Christianity
  • Holy Spirit
  • Pentecostal witchcraft
  • Pentecostal movements
  • pentecostalisation
  • demonology
  • Pentecostal demonology
  • ethnography
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Vanuatu
  • Congo
  • Mozambique
  • Tanzania
  • indigenous Pentecostal movements
  • Christian evangelism
  • sorcery
  • Oceania
  • Open Access
  • religion and society


“Ingeniously entangling Christian demonology and local beliefs, Pentecostalism operates as a major universalizing force that assumes control over life and death, good and evil. This is the starting point of this well composed, mind-boggling volume. It traces the Pentecostalization of witchcraft in various locations in Africa and Melanesia through ten conceptually informed and grounded ethnographies. Framed by an excellent introduction and two concluding afterwords, this volume is a major contribution to the  understanding of the global appeal of the Holy Spirit and spiritual warfare in our time. Far from taking recourse to universal theoretical models and essentializing regional modes of comparison, this amazing intellectual project calls our attention to the operation of universalizing religious regimes in action.” (Birgit Meyer, Professor of Religious Studies, Utrecht University, Netherlands)

Editors and Affiliations

  • University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

    Knut Rio, Michelle MacCarthy, Ruy Blanes

About the editors

Knut Rio is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen, Norway

Michelle MacCarthy is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Bergen, Norway

Ruy Blanes is a Ramon y Cajal fellow at the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas in Spain

Bibliographic Information

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 31.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 31.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)