Evans Akangyelewon Atuick

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York, Buffalo, State U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10673

Approve Date

April 15, 2024

Project Title

Atuick, Evans (New York, Buffalo, State U. of) "Witchcraft Camps and the Body Politics of Humanitarian Governance in Northern Ghana"

I analyze how concerns about witchcraft shape the sociality, conviviality, and body politics of humanitarian workers who implement biopolitical interventions in Northern Ghana. Moving past the static and individuated dichotomy of zoë and bios, I focus on humanitarian workers’ engagements with idioms of growth and consumption that inform local understandings of life and death processes and thus the very nature of humanitarian governance. For over a decade, more than thirty humanitarian organizations have supported residents of Ghanaian witchcraft camps, where elderly women and children perceived as “bad” and “ugly” are isolated as “witches.” Witchcraft accusations emerge during disease outbreaks, loss of fertility, sudden deaths, and poor harvests. Witchcraft camps are sanctuaries for the accused as well as places of conviviality amongst residents, community members and humanitarian workers. While scholars have shown that African community members sometimes read humanitarian activities through the prism of concerns about witchcraft, I analyze how fears of witchcraft shape the attitudes, perceptions, activities, and conviviality of humanitarian workers themselves vis-à-vis witchcraft camp residents, community gatekeepers and members. By integrating local idioms of power centered on growth and consumption into the biopolitics of witchcraft humanitarianism, I broaden the scope of critical treatments of humanitarianism in postcolonial contexts.