Michael Ostling

in Between the Devil and the Host

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199587902
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731228 | DOI:

Series: The Past & Present Book Series


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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This conclusion reviews the themes of the book, in particular its notion of ‘imagining witchcraft’. Drawing on the work of Jonathan Z. Smith, it claims that witchcraft, like religion, is a second-order category created by scholars for their own comparative purposes: accordingly scholars have the responsibility to use the category well. Drawing on the work of Clifford Geertz, the conclusion argues that we study not ‘The Other’ but others—real people and their own projects of self-imagination. Accused witches were caught in multiple layers of imaginative labeling—as criminals, Satanists, pagans, demoniacs. They also imagined themselves as Christians, wives, mothers. The task of this book has been to explore these multiple imaginations in an attempt to understand all the actors caught up in witch-trials: the accused, their accusers, magistrates, and alleged victims.

Keywords: Jonathan Z. Smith; Clifford Geertz; imagining witchcraft; The Other; labeling; self-imagination

Chapter.  1872 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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