From the accused to the empowered: a cultural model of identity and witchcraft in New Orleans

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dc.contributor Helfrecht, Courtney
dc.contributor Oths, Kathy
dc.contributor Pritzker, Sonya
dc.contributor Purvis, Jennifer
dc.contributor.advisor Lynn, Christopher D.
dc.contributor.author Smith, Sarah Emily
dc.date.accessioned 2021-07-07T14:36:53Z
dc.date.available 2021-07-07T14:36:53Z
dc.date.issued 2021
dc.identifier.other u0015_0000001_0003792
dc.identifier.other Smith_alatus_0004M_14485
dc.identifier.uri http://ir.ua.edu/handle/123456789/7871
dc.description Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
dc.description.abstract Historically, being accused of witchcraft meant death (Baker, 2015; Demos, 2008; Ehrenreich & English, 2010). More recently, identifying as a witch means living with a stigmatized and often concealed identity (Reece, 2016; Tejeda, 2015). Despite the injurious effects of stigmatization, such as discrimination in the workplace, isolation from one’s family, and increased subjective anxiety (Reece, 2016; Tejeda, 2015), individuals are increasingly identifying as witches in the United States. The most current estimate is that upwards of 1.5 million North Americans identify as such— though there is no official census to know for sure (Bosker, 2020; Fearnow, 2018). The motivations driving the increase remain unclear due to the narrower inquiry of extant research in which witches are often styled as white, suburbanite, middle-class, college-educated, “nature-worshipping” individuals who are predominately female. This description stems from feminist and religious studies which explore the sociopolitical underpinnings of “witch” as a politically oriented identity, the psychosocial benefits of witchcraft as a “feminist spirituality,” and on more bounded, ethnographic accounts of European-rooted “Neopagan” sects, such as Gardnerian Wicca. However, while partly true, this portrait of identity, beliefs, and practices does not accurately represent the majority, nor the diversity, of currently practicing witches as it largely excludes the specific perspectives of witches of color, male, and gender-fluid witches. In the summer of 2020, I interviewed a diverse group of witches in New Orleans, Louisiana to explore what motivates individuals to adopt the identifier “witch” as part of their identity. In this thesis, I apply a cultural model approach to both explore the question of motivation and provide a more temporally appropriate, finer-grained understanding of witches as a diverse group.
dc.format.extent 154 p.
dc.format.medium electronic
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language English
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.publisher University of Alabama Libraries
dc.relation.ispartof The University of Alabama Electronic Theses and Dissertations
dc.relation.ispartof The University of Alabama Libraries Digital Collections
dc.relation.hasversion born digital
dc.rights All rights reserved by the author unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subject.other Cultural anthropology
dc.subject.other American studies
dc.title From the accused to the empowered: a cultural model of identity and witchcraft in New Orleans
dc.type thesis
dc.type text
etdms.degree.department University of Alabama. Department of Anthropology
etdms.degree.discipline Anthropology
etdms.degree.grantor The University of Alabama
etdms.degree.level master's
etdms.degree.name M.A.


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