Magic And Warfare Appearance And Reality In Contemporary African Conflict And Beyond

| Friday, March 21, 2008 | |
Magic And Warfare Appearance And Reality In Contemporary African Conflict And Beyond Cover

Book: Magic And Warfare Appearance And Reality In Contemporary African Conflict And Beyond by Nathalie Wlodarczyk

This study explores the roles played by magic in contemporary African warfare, specifically through the case of Sierra Leone, to assess its impact on behaviour in conflict. In the last two decades, rituals designed to imbue people with Supernatural power and make them immune to enemy fire have been seen on post-Cold War battlefields across Africa. Wlodarczyk argues that the use of magic in warfare can be understood, not as an illustration of how Africa’s reality is qualitatively different from the West’s, but as appropriate and logical. Here, a conceptual framework is suggested for analysing culturally alien practices more broadly, to inform approaches to civilian and military intervention not only in Africa but in conflict theatres around the world.

Wlodarczyk has built on the by-now considerable body of work on the importance of belief systems in African politics to offer a systematic analysis of the role of ‘magic’ in the Sierra Leone conflict. Making good use of the extensive evidence gathered by the trials on war crimes and her own field research, she provides a detailed account of the origins, organization and behaviour of the Kamajor militias that formed the core of the so-called Civil Defence Forces, which fought the rebel Revolutionary United Front. This book is a perceptive analysis of the nature of violence in contemporary Africa, which has relevance well beyond the continent. And it reinforces the argument that it is impossible plausibly to interpret political events in settings different from ours without an Understanding of the cultural context within which they take place.”—Patrick Chabal, International Affairs

"Researchers who specialize in military studies are a pretty hard-headed bunch, unlikely to spend much time thinking about the worlds of spirits. If they read this book, as they should, they may start to do otherwise. Wlodarczyck’s achievement is to show the relevance of spiritual matters for military and political affairs in many parts of the world, concentrating on Sierra Leone. I hope this book will alert many people to an aspect of warfare that is likely to grow in importance."--Stephen Ellis, Desmond Tutu Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
“Nathalie Wlodarczyk has done a stunning job bringing the immensely complicated, sensitive and intriguing subject of magic to the academic field. From a sound theoretical base, this book brings empirical research and meticulous insight into Sierra Leone’s war and its Kamajor fighters. Magic and Warfare combines a fascinating intellectual adventure with an engaging clarity that steers the reader to a greater understanding not only of the Kamajors and the war, but of the nature of belief and its relationship with action.

Buy Nathalie Wlodarczyk's book: Magic And Warfare Appearance And Reality In Contemporary African Conflict And Beyond

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Samurai Voodoo Doll The Truth About Voodoo Dolls Today

| Sunday, March 9, 2008 | |
Samurai Voodoo Doll The Truth About Voodoo Dolls Today Cover The Samurai voodoo doll and in fact voodoo dolls in general, have seen a great revival in recent years, with a growing number of westerners expressing interest in these curios. Yet the world is not preparing itself for a riot of black magic - for these little Samurai voodoo dolls are armed with charm and a cheeky little smile! Voodoo doll charms have become hugely popular with people for a wide number of reasons.

Voodoo itself carries with it much mysticism and intrigue, with many people perceiving it through the lens of Hollywood. Certainly films have depicted dark, mysterious and undoubtedly evil doings relating to voodoo, with voodoo dolls being tortured, stuck with pins and burnt. Yet this image is distinctly unfair, and the reality of voodoo, and its use of dolls, is as distant from black magic as the little voodoo charms carried by people today.

Used as key rings, attached to bags and zippers or simply hidden inside a pocket, the little samurai dolls which people enjoy today are in no way symbols of dark magic or of a culture which entertains dark or evil forces. Indeed, voodoo is very much an aspect of the ancient Caribbean religion which worships Loa, and Loa's sub-deities. It is a religion which harnesses the natural world, and which takes on board the idea that everything is interconnected, With Spirits and natural energy underpinning all that we see, both in the natural world and in the behaviour of people.

It is particularly this idea that people's behaviour can be affected by natural forces or energy which has encouraged the increased interest in lucky charms, samurai dolls and voodoo dolls. However, rather than seeing these little doll charms as being dark, restricting or affecting people's behaviour against their will, it is instead the idea that people who approach you with dark thoughts, ill intentions or bad news will find that their negative energy is either dispelled or rebuffed.

In practice the concept is that one of these brave little voodoo doll charms will defend you from this negative energy, bouncing it back towards the other person, and keeping you safe from harm. Sticking pins in your little doll charm will do little else but risk him losing a little of his stuffing, and you wouldn't want to impair his ability to defend you, would you?

Whether you believe in the idea of natural energy, negative energy or the ability to defend yourself from negative energy is unimportant. Certainly many people do, and we all know people who seem charmed, able to float through life untouched by negative energy, or like ducks, able to let bad news or dark times simple trickle off their back as they drift onwards towards warmer waters. Similarly many of us know people who seem always to be the ones to experience bad news, calamities, failures and problems, constantly stressed, upset or angry, with a fuse so short that it barely has any delay before bursting with a furious reaction!

Why should it be that some people have it so easy, whilst for others life seems to be a constant challenge? Is there something in the idea of being charmed? Is it simply that by believing that things will get worse, that they do, and that by having faith that things will improve, they will? If this is the case, then our plucky little heroes, your little samurai voodoo doll or other voodoo doll charms may work simply by being around, filling you with just enough confidence to make the difference.

Of course, for many people charms have great importance, from special pebbles or shells, to crystals or pendants, jewels, rings or other items which seem imbued with energy or associations which help the owner feel more positive. Voodoo dolls manage to evoke the mystery of an ancient and powerful religion from a part of the world connected deeply to the natural environment. A holiday to Haiti will not only bring you right to the heart of the origins of Voodoo, but is likely to help invest you with renewed vigour, feeling positive and energetic! But of course, that might simply be the sun, the white sand and the local rum!

There are many people who carry such charms simply for their visual appeal, and this is understandable looking at the wide selection of voodoo dolls available today. Delightfully designed, with great detail and a distinct sense of charm which has a great deal to do with their cheeky little expressions.

The samurai voodoo doll may offer you protection against those who may mean you harm, or he may provide you with a renewed sense of confidence and faith in yourself, or he may simply be a rather unusual little character hanging from your bag or tucked in your pocket. But one thing is for certain - voodoo doll charms won't needle you, and who knows - maybe neither will other people whilst you keep him with you!

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