The Power of Stories

Karen J. Brison

in Just Talk

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 1992 | ISBN: 9780520077003
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520912182 | DOI:
The Power of Stories

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This chapter examines the ways in which unsubstantiated stories become “truth” in Kwanga villages. It moves beyond examining rumor to investigate ways in which stories about recent events influence people's interpretation of future events and their memories of the past, and can ultimately constitute much of their knowledge about their social world. Rumors are one such type of story; stories told in public meetings can have similar careers. The chapter argues that sorcery talk among the Kwanga is an instance of a much more pervasive kind of behavior which occurs everywhere. Sorcery deaths in Kwanga villages represent situations which are both anxiety provoking and ambiguous par excellence: deaths are anxiety provoking because they usually indicate to people that a murderer is at large in the community, and also have the potential to lead to violence as the aggrieved family searches for a culprit.

Keywords: stories; truth; Kwanga; villages; future; memories; sorcery; deaths; violence

Chapter.  10300 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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