Journal or Book Title
Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft
This ninth volume in the “Hexenforschung” series tackles a broad topic: demonic possession in all its forms. The volume emerged from a 1999 conference held under the auspices of the Arbeitskreis interdisziplinäre Hexen-forschung (Workshop for Interdisciplinary Witchcraft Research). Authorities during the era of the major European witch hunts often regarded demonic possession and obsession as phenomena closely connected to witchcraft. Yet as this volume points out, belief in spirit possession in various forms appears in numerous cultures throughout history. These beliefs and the cases related to them, however, have generally received far less scholarly attention than the phenomenon of witchcraft and witch-hunting. The organizers of the conference therefore cast their net widely, drawing not only on the discipline of history but also on historical anthropology, theology, ethnology, and even psychiatry. The chapters included in this collection range from biblical antiquity to the 1990s, and from western Europe to Korea and Australia. That said, the majority of the chapters (twelve out of eighteen) focus on Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the age of the witch hunts and, as the editors rightly assert in their foreword, a “golden age” for demonic possession. The other articles offer more or less explicit points of comparison to early modern Europe.
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University of Pennsylvania Press
Bailey, Michael D., "Dämonische Besessenheit: Zur Interpretation eines kulturhistorischen Phänomens (review)" (2007). History Publications. 37.