The Materiality of Magic: An artifactual investigation into ritual practices and popular beliefs

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Oxbow Books, Dec 31, 2015 - Social Science - 152 pages
The subject of magic has long been considered peripheral and sensationalist, the word itself having become something of an academic taboo. However, beliefs in magic and the rituals that surround them are extensive as are their material manifestations and to avoid them is to ignore a prevalent aspect of cultures worldwide, from prehistory to the present day. The Materiality of Magic addresses the value of the material record as a resource in investigations into magic, ritual practices, and popular beliefs. The chronological and geographic focuses of the papers presented here vary from prehistory to the present-day, including numinous interpretations of fossils and ritual deposits in Bronze Age Europe; apotropaic devices in Roman and Medieval Britain; the evolution of superstitions and ritual customs from the voodoo doll of Europe and Africa to a Scottish wishing-tree ; and an exploration of spatiality in West African healing practices. The objectives of this collection of nine papers are twofold. First, to provide a platform from which to showcase innovative research and theoretical approaches in a subject which has largely been neglected within archaeology and related disciplines, and, secondly, to redress this neglect. The papers were presented at the 2012 Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG) conference in Liverpool.

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The materiality of the materiality of magic
The curious case of the missingmagical fossils
A consideration of prehistoric practice and intention
3 Doorways ditches and dead dogs excavating and recording materialmanifestations of practical magic amongst later prehistoric andRomanoBritish c...
A diachronic approach
The beginnings of the voodoodoll myth
6 Binding spells and curse tablets through time
The evolution of a Scottish folkloric practice
The inner and outer layers of healers workspaces inMadina Accra
9 The Little Mannie with his daddys horns

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About the author (2015)

Ceri Houlbrook is a PhD student at Manchester University with research interests in the archaeology of British folklore and ritual, and contemporary folkloric customs, in particularly how folkloric practices become acclimatised to different times and places, and the processes which lead to their survivals, revivals, and recontextualisations. Natalie Armitage is a PhD student at Manchester University with research interests in the historical and cultural representations of figurative image magic including aspects of race and constructions of negative stereotypes surrounding religion, magical practice and superstition.

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