Double, double toil and trouble:

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Double, double toil and trouble: An investigation on occult forces expenditures in the heartland of voodoo Vincent Somville (Michelsen Institute, Bergen) Jol Noret (Universit Libre de Bruxelles) Philippe LeMay-Boucher (Heriot-Watt University). 1. Preliminary considerations. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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1Double, double toil and trouble: An investigation on occult forces expenditures in the heartland of voodoo

Vincent Somville (Michelsen Institute, Bergen)Jol Noret (Universit Libre de Bruxelles)Philippe LeMay-Boucher (Heriot-Watt University)12Preliminary considerationsPreconception that in Beninese (West-African) context occult forces were anecdotalA mere tourist trap advertised at Beninese consulates.But among locals : recurrent topic, something affecting daily lives, deeply rooted & pervasive2Preliminary considerationsHigh representatives of established Christian churches, such as the bishops of Lagos and Kinshasa, believe in witchcraft. According to the latter, this belief is shared by about 80% of all Africans.Even African scholars and decision makers, educated in renowned Western universities, strongly share witchcraft beliefs according to occasion, more or less openly.(Kohnert, 1983; Kadya Tall, 1995)

3Preliminary considerationsJenkins and Curtis (2005) (SSM): What drives decision to install a pit latrine in rural Benin (40 hh)?Protect from supernatural dangers (is one of the 3 main drive)A Latrine can prevent / attenuate:1) Fear of supernatural illnesses caused by smelling or seeing others faeces2) Fear of encountering a snake: a sign of impending death in family / Fear of voodoo sorcery, magic, and dead spirits in the night3) Fear of enemies stealing your faeces for sorcery against you45Based on field evidence collected in Cotonou Benin (2006): What hh & ind. characteristics influence expenditures in occult forces?Anthropologist preoccupied by question for a long timeWill our empirical evidence corroborate their findings? Research Aim5Some of our key findingsSpending in Occult Forces is not anecdotal48% of all hh in our dataset spend positive amount in Protection & CureExpenditure on Protection & Cure : 2.7% of all monthly expenditure5.6% if we take subsample with non zero exp.Our findings corroborate anthropologist assertions6What are occult forces?Example: the granary & the death (Evans-Pritchard 1937)How? = termitesWhy? = occult forces give answerOffers explanation to misfortuneComplex institutional system

78What are occult forces?Catch-all term: different practices from region to regionMystical & super-natural power: good, evil, causation; coherent ideology for daily living gives interpretations of misfortune Not belief about the world but self-evident & real force Plurality of meanings, not all of them associated with harmful activities8Example of a client young father from a poor rural background: recently graduated from universitySeries of misfortunes in the last 6 months: child becoming ill + wife discovers she can no longer become pregnant. Interpretation: comes from an attack by occult forces retaliation from his siblings who never attended high school and remained in the village.To cure his household: buys services from local diviner.910Principal Mechanismjealousy, familial dispute over heritage, unsettled legal dispute (land ownership), professional progressionTensionsOccult forces?Symptoms:Uncured illness, biomedical failed, sterility/deathAccumulation of misfortunes (unempl, children failing school)Visit / diagnosis

Step towards protection/curePriest of the Fafor a diagnosis (100-500F) 2. Celestial Church of Christone candle, 25-100F

3. Pastor of Evangelical Church

4. Catholic Priest101. Witchcraft / SorceryHarm/good done by witch/sorcerers who possess supernatural powers (no divinity)Witch: natural talentSorcerer: uses ingredients & incantations Evil magic consciously practiced against othersBoth low profile (fear of accusations)Services not for sale11122. System of Magical belief: VoodooComplex pantheon of divinities Voodoos = divinities with super powers, fear & devotion surrounding themPerennial relationships: humans honoring them Rituals & sacrifices required to activate specific powersBreach of rules (or insufficient sacrifices) provoke their anger ( illness, death)12Voodoo, cont.Voodoo powers for saleTariffs flexible, depending on means of clientSuffice to ask a voodoos priest for an attack: ingredients, incantations & breach of rule1314Whose decision to spend?Household financial structure: husband & wife have separate financial spheres (Dagnelie et al. 2012)Each latitude to make consumption decision on basis of own income14Provision of household goods:Social normsHusband (breadwinner): house repair, rental fees, electricity, schooling fees, medical bills, extra money for housekeeping (complement wifes contribution) Occult forces : if hh is headed by a couple vast majority of cases males take in chargeWife: cooking, care of family, waterDocumented by: Falen (2003) + our numerous informal interviews + our descriptive stats15The datasetQuestionnaire in 2 parts: a) Households characteristics, b) Personal expendituresSeparated women/men interviews178 households, only head of householdData on expenditures on Occult Forces:PROTECTION or CURE Nothing on attack16See Table 1: Categories of magico-religious expenditure.17Hypotheses from literature(1) Use/belief in occult forces is not gender-specific (2) Use/belief is common at different levels of education (3) Use/belief is common among various religious affiliation. Exception: Celestial, pentecostal, rosarian Evangelical churches provide protection against occult forces18Hypotheses, cont.(4) Do Magico-religious beliefs play an important role in the enforcement of redistributive norms?Income itself: no (can be concealed)Item highly visible: auto/motorcycle(5) Higher transfer to hh & relatives reduces jealousy & need for protection/cureCurrent transfers (endogenous): transfers (t-1) in 2004(6) Death or funerals are great source of tensions. dummy if funeral inside family within last year19Descriptive Stats: Table 2

Estimation results: Table 4

20ConclusionsSpending in Occult Forces is not anecdotalExpenditure on Protection & Cure : around 2% of all monthly expenditureDataset seems to give evidence in favour of anthropologist assertionsLarger prop. of HH spend on Occult forces than on bio-medical treatments21