The Modernity of Witchcraft in the Ghanaian Online Setting


Dr. Idris Riahi

Research Area:


This project suggests an investigation of witchcraft in West African context. Both the level of cognitive conceptualisation, and the discursive dimensions emerging from there will be analysed. Furthering interdisciplinary research, this project combines social scientific, cognitive linguistic and cognitive theories and methods in the scientific study of religion to cover social representations that target communities refer to as witchcraft. Consequently, our work addresses the following questions: What can we learn about human religious thinking exemplified by the salience and prevalence of the witch as a counterintuitive agent? How can we understand the social function of witchcraft in context of other religions? And what new light will cognitive theories of religions shed on the discussion of witchcraft? To tackle these problems we suggest a study composed of three broad steps: a) empirical field research based upon cognitive linguistic methodology in communities in West Africa, b) widening the scope of data collection to discourse analysis in which the findings of step a can be grounded, c) delivering an evaluative and conclusive discussion of steps a and b with special regard to religious thinking. In this way we hope to contribute to an understanding of the versatility of the conceptualisations of witchcraft and their relation to religions in West Africa.