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Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande [Abridged] [Paperback]

by E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Eva Gillies
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 24, 1976 0198740298 978-0198740292 Abridged
This acknowledged masterpiece has been abridged to make it more accessible to students. In her introduction, Eva Gillies presents the case for the relevance of the book to modern anthropologists.

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Editorial Reviews


"Surely no need for commentary on this anthropological classic at this late date, but it remains one of the most wonderfully written and useful texts ever."--Misty L. Bastian, Franklin & Marshall College

"Classic. Most important book written on the subject. Students love it."--Paige West, Winthrop College

"Important and classical study."--Larry Nasper, Columbia College, Chicago

"Timeless classic."--Anne Woodrick, University of Northern Iowa.

"A detailed and vivid description of witchcraft and the rituals related to it."--Prema Ghimire, Hartwick College

About the Author

The late Edward E. Evans Pritchard was a Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 265 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; Abridged edition (June 24, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198740298
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198740292
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A controversial classic! February 13, 2001
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an abridged reprint of a book originally published in 1937.
This book by anthropologist Evans-Pritchard is best understood as a reaction against the work of the earlier anthropologist Levy-Bruhl. Levy-Bruhl had argued that "primitive" people have a "pre-logical" mentality, in that they are willing to accept worldviews that include contradictions. Evans-Pritchard disagrees, and uses the case study of the Azande, an African tribe, to make his point.
The Azande routinely appealled to "witchcraft" in their daily lives. (I cannot say how accurate Evans-Pritchard's account was of the Azande during his stay, or how much they have changed since the 30's.) For example, the Azande would explain at least some bad events as the result of witchcraft being practiced against them, and would use a "poison oracle" to determine who the witch was. ("Azande" is the noun, "Zande" is the adjective, like "Britons" vs. "British.") At first glance, this all seems irrational. However, Evans-Pritchard sets out the Azande beliefs in a way that shows that they form a fairly coherent system. He also notes that it was possible for him to live according to these beliefs during his stay with the Azande.
This book (and some of Evans-Pritchard's essays) have stimulated an immense amount of secondary literature. Peter Winch (see his articles in Bryan R. Wilson, ed., _Rationality_) argues that Evans-Pritchard did not go far enough, because Evans-Pritchard claims that the Zande beliefs (while not "pre-logical"), are nontheless unscientific, and mistaken. Winch argues that the test of whether something (e.g., electrons or witchraft) is real depends on the language and culture within which the judgment is being made.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great anthropological work September 8, 2003
I am in an anthropology class that studies magic, witchcraft,and healing among other cultures. This book was assigned for the class.
Evans-Pritchard explains everything in great detail, and although the book is over 70 years old, he makes the culture seem alive to the reader. E-P doesn't write as though the Azande witchcraft beliefs are inferior to our own, and he admits that while he lived among them, he accepted their beliefs. He explains, at length, that their beliefs are just as logical as our own, they just stem from different premises.
The writing itself is very clear and concise, and I have had no problems reading 120 pages of it over the weekend. It's genuinely interesting and reads almost like a novel. The main ideas are easy to catch and highlight, so it is an easy book to study. E-P doesn't bog the reader down in details but adequately explains everything of the Azande's beliefs. His analysis of the beliefs are objective and easy to follow, yet not condescending.
Overall, a very interesting book that I would recommend to anybody who is interested in anthropology in general or religious beliefs of other cultures in particular.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine work of Anthropology September 27, 2002
By Blah
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Evans Pritchard is one of the foremost anthropologist in the twentieth century as well as being one of the first to do serious work in Africa. In this book his main focus is the three oracles of the Azande in the Sudan. These being in order of decreasing importance: the poison oracle, the termite oracle, and the rubbing board oracle. He spent extended time researching and was directly feed information from an informant who being taught the secrets of witchdoctors. On the negative side it does have a somewhat condescending tone to African Culture as well as to Africans in general. However, this takes away little from the whole product. the Abridged version is almost as good as the unabridged and is well worth the read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars African Witchcraft May 31, 2003
Although somewhat dated (being written around the turn of the century), this book is an excellent cultural survey of Zande magico-religious beliefs. The author spent time amongst the Azande of the Sudan and was one of the first westerners to study about the belief in witchcraft and sorcery. I would like to point out that in the terms of this book, witch is used to define malicious (or at least selfish) sorcerers. No offense to Wiccans or other New Agers, but traditional African religion does regard witchcraft as something that is evil, or at least negative. Aside from the material about witches, there is also a wealth of information about oracles and how the Azande detect the witches within their societ. This is a study of the religious beliefs of the Azande, and I strongly recommend that anyone with an interest in African cultural or religion to take a look at this book. Please do note that it is somewhat dated, and contains somewhat paternalistic views towards African society. And furthermore, Zande culture (which is alive and well in the Sudan) has changed somewhat over the years. Nonetheless, I strongly recommend this book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
E. E. Evans-Pritchard is regarded as one of the "founding fathers" of anthropology. Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic Among the Azande is the result of his first fieldwork experience. Western cultures tend to consider other cultures inferior or primitive in comparison to their own and this unfortunately shows in Evans-Pritchard's writing. There are many points in the book where one must seriously consider the possibility that Evans-Pritchard had misunderstood a part of Azande culture due to the tint of his own cultural lens and misreported it as a result of misunderstanding. Evans-Pritchard discusses many parts of Azande culture as if they are something primitive and inferior. An example of this is a discussion between Evans-Pritchard and a friend of his among the Azande who believed that he had been the victim of a jealous neighbor's witchcraft. The man was a woodcarver of note in the area who's wood had suddenly split during carving. In the man's belief, the sudden split was due to witchcraft. Evans-Pritchard's treatment of the subject had an air of annoyance with the man's inability to consider other possible causes of the split that would have made more sense to a European mind.
Despite what might be seen as an occasional and mild sense of cultural superiority over the Azande on part of Evans-Pritchard, the book is well worth the read. As previously stated, Evans-Pritchard is one of the first prominent figures in anthropology and Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic Among the Azande is considered a classical anthropological text. Aside from the importance of the piece as a record of the evolution and form of such cultural studies, there is quite a bit to learn from the text.
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