Dr. Beatrice Nicolini is Assistant Professor of History and Institutions of Africa, Faculty of Political Sciences, at Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy. She earned her Ph.D. from Siena University, Italy. Dr. Nicolini is the author of four books and numerous essays.2006 0-7734-5727-5
Magical practices, witchcraft, and warfare in the African continent during the XIX and XX centuries offer interesting opportunities towards a better understanding not only of African societies, but most of all, of their historical role in numerous political and military conflicts and also within peace-building processes, which represent a continuation of a topic of long-standing concern in African history.
This collection extends the time period from the colonial to the post-colonial, but it also broadens the focus from invocations of the supernatural in military and political mobilization, to rituals of healing in post-conflict societies, the latter, until now, being a field more studied by anthropologists.
The majority of contributions are here analyzing cases from Sub-Saharan Africa, starting from West Africa, to Uganda, and concentrating on East Africa, mainly Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique, ending in Zimbabwe, and South Africa. From the historical, institutional and military points of view, African colonial history clashed against African magical practices and witchcraft, and, in many occasions, colonial authorities of the time did persecute major representatives of these practices, also with the use of force. The object of this volume is showing how practices of magic, and in some contributions also witchcraft, did reveal and still reveal today as very much useful instruments within political fights, sometimes with the object of violent oppositions and revolutions, sometimes with the object of status quo preservation processes. Another attractive feature of this collection of essays is the combination of young academics (who opened their research to future analysis) together with internationally well-established scholars such as Bernardi, Uzoigwe, Owusu, and Ranger. Terence Ranger is without question the leading historian of African employment of magic and of witchcraft eradication movements in modern Africa. The opportunity of filling a gap in this important subject is absolutely unique, and many scholars and researchers, as well as policy makers, will benefit of this effort.