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Same-sex competition and sexual conflict expressed through witchcraft accusations

Peacey, Sarah; Campbell, Olympia LK; Mace, Ruth; (2022) Same-sex competition and sexual conflict expressed through witchcraft accusations. Scientific Reports , 12 (1) , Article 6655. 10.1038/s41598-022-10315-8. Green open access

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Abstract

There is significant cross-cultural variation in the sex of individuals most likely to be accused of practising witchcraft. Allegations of witchcraft might be a mechanism for nullifying competitors so resources they would have used become available to others. In this case, who is targeted may result from patterns of competition and conflict (same-sex or male-female) within specific relationships, which are determined by broader socio-ecological factors. Here we examine patterns of sex-specific accusations in historic cases from sub-Saharan Africa (N = 423 accusations). Male 'witches' formed the greater part of our sample, and were mostly accused by male blood-relatives and nonrelatives, often in connection to disputes over wealth and status. Accusations of women were mainly from kin by marriage, and particularly from husbands and co-wives. The most common outcomes were that the accused was forced to move, or suffered reputational damage. Our results suggest that competition underlies accusations and relationship patterns may determine who is liable to be accused.

Type: Article
Title: Same-sex competition and sexual conflict expressed through witchcraft accusations
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-10315-8
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-10315-8
Language: English
Additional information: Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Family, Female, Humans, Male, Marriage, Sexual Behavior, Spouses, Witchcraft
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10147721
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