Focusing on colonial Kenya, this book shows how conflicts between state authorities and Africans over witchcraft-related crimes provided an important space in which the meanings of justice, law and order in the empire were debated. Katherine Luongo discusses the emergence of imperial networks of knowledge about witchcraft. She then demonstrates how colonial concerns about witchcraft produced an elaborate body of jurisprudence about capital crimes. The book analyzes the legal wrangling that produced the Witchcraft Ordinances in the 1910s, the birth of an anthro-administrative complex surrounding witchcraft in the 1920s, the hotly contested Wakamba Witch Trials of the 1930s, the explosive growth of legal opinion on witch-murder in the 1940s, and the unprecedented state-sponsored cleansings of witches and Mau Mau adherents during the 1950s. A work of anthropological history, this book develops an ethnography of Kamba witchcraft or uoi.
Katherine Luongo received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In 2003-4, she held a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship to conduct archival and ethnographic research in Kenya and was a research associate at the Institut Francais de Recherche en Afrique in Nairobi. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of History at Northeastern University in Boston. Luongo's articles have appeared in History in Africa, African Affairs, The Journal of Eastern African Studies and the Cahiers d'Etudes africaines. Her research and teaching interests include the occult, legal systems and anthropological history.
1. Introduction; 2. Clans and councils, caravans and conquest, cosmology and colonialism: Ukambani in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; 3. Understanding uoi, uwe, and kithitu in Ukambani; 4. The 'cosmology' of the colonial state; 5. The Wakamba witch trials: a witch-murder in 1930s Kenya; 6. Witchcraft, murder, and death sentences after Rex v. Kumwaka; 7. The world of oathing and witchcraft in Mau Mau-era machakos; 8. Cleansing Ukambani witches; 9. Epilogue.