African Witchcraft and Otherness: A Philosophical and Theological Critique of Intersubjective Relations

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SUNY Press, May 16, 2001 - Social Science - 224 pages
This work of African philosophy and theology uses the thought of Emmanuel Levinas to provide an analysis of tfu (witchcraft) among the Wimbum people of Cameroon along with a critique of intersubjective relations. Taking an approach he calls "critical contextualism," author Elias Bongmba employs Levinas's philosophy, particularly the concept of the Other, to engage in cross-cultural philosophy that does not destroy the perspective of the culture under study. Insights from anthropology, African studies, and the author's own experiences are also important throughout the book. Bongmba discusses the cultural background of the Wimbum people and explores the concepts and terms used to discuss the acquisition of several categories of power generally described as tfu. Bongmba argues that when properly explored and understood, these terms refer to complex practices that involve power that can be used for good and power that can be abused. Drawing from Levinas, the author demonstrates that negative use of tfu constitutes a totalizing praxis. He goes on to endorse Levinas's call for a phenomenology of eros as a way of reconfiguring interpersonal relationships.

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Thanks very much for writing a book on this all consuming subject! I have been looking for sound materials on this subject written from a Western and empirical viewpoint. I am a minister of the gospel who has been terribly affected by witchcraft while living right here in the United States. By the way, I am from Liberia and have even recorded witchcraft confessions from Liberia and the Ivory Coast. I wonder why many Evangelicals, people of my persuasion, tend to argue against the existence of witches and wizards.
I look forward to securing a copy of this book really soon!
Again, thanks!
Gonwo Dahnweih (Rev.), MA, MSW


The Wimbum People
Toward a Hermeneutics of Wimbum Tfu
Beyond the Rationality Debate to Contextual Ethics
Levinas on the Ethics of the Other
Toward a Philosophical and Theological Critique of Tfu
Different Levels of Tfu Knowledge
Selected Bibliography

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About the author (2001)

Elias Kifon Bongmba is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University.