THE WITCH STUDIES READER
Coming Soon with Duke University Press
Co-edited by Soma Chaudhuri and Jane Ward
For too long, academics have conceptualized witchcraft and witch hunts—especially in the global south—as fetishized rituals of exotic groups, relegating research on witches to area studies. Such marginalization is rooted in a colonial and then post-colonial white western gaze that largely dominates the research on the global south, leading to misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the different but connected political-economic contexts in which the figure of the witch is evoked. In the global north, witchcraft is treated as either an historical practice (of Medieval Europe and colonial New England) or a New Age feminist occult practice that waxes and wanes in response to political upheaval and uncertainty. As a result, academic attention to witches has consisted of a largely disconnected and exoticized compilation of writing, with little or no conversation between scholars and witchcraft practitioners themselves. What is missing is a much needed feminist, decolonial, and global approach to the subject.
Over the last few years, U.S. news media began to notice an explosion of interest in witches and witchcraft among feminists and queers. As the media has reported, this wave of feminist witches is “intersectional AF,” with Black witches, brujas, and queer and trans witches at their helm, and hexes on patriarchy and white supremacy among the modern witch’s most popular spells. Witchcraft has also taken its place inside queer and feminist movement spaces, with feminist influencers proudly blending identities like “antiracist, abolitionist, organizer, witch.” But a startling contrast to this embrace and celebration of the witch identity in the global north, are the ritualized violent witch hunts that target and persecute women among some communities in the global south—a phenomenon mostly ignored by the western media. Tens of thousands of poor women, indigenous women, and/or aging women in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa have been murdered for their association—real or imagined—with witchcraft in the past fifty years. This violence is ongoing today.
May 1, 2021: Circulate CFP
August 1, 2021: Submission of abstracts (500-750 words) deadline. Email abstracts to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
August 15, 2021: Decision for acceptance of abstract after editorial review.
September 15, 2021: Submission of edited volume proposal to Duke University Press for external review.
Dec 31, 2021: Edits and feedback on the proposal returned to authors
Feb 15, 2022: Authors submit full chapters to the editors for internal review
April 15, 2022: Editors send comments to the authors for revisions.
May15, 2022: Authors send revised chapters to the editors.
June 1, 2022: Editors review chapter submissions, revise full manuscript, send it back to the authors for another round of revisions
June 15, 2022: Volume goes out for second external review
August 15, 2022: Feedback from external reviewers shared with authors for final revision
October 15, 2022: Final drafts submitted to the editors for internal review
November 15, 2022: Editors review chapter submissions, revise full manuscript, send it back to the authors for another round of revisions.
December 1, 2022: Complete final draft of the book goes for final external review
Completed manuscript in press: Summer, 2023
CALL FOR ABSTRACTS
With this background in mind, we are calling for chapter proposals that illuminate how feminists can make sense of the witch—her power and her persecution—in ways that take account of the vastly different national, political-economic, and cultural contexts in which she is currently being claimed and repudiated. The Witch Studies Reader, being prepared for Duke University Press, will dive deep into this question, revealing the current era to be a time of feminist celebration of witchcraft in many parts of the global North, and a time of continued violence and death for women accused of witchcraft in many parts of the global South. This book will be the first of its kind to hold both realities in view by tracing the evolving relationship between the figure of the witch and the global political-economic and cultural context in which she is located.
We are seeking contributions from practitioners of witchcraft, academics and anti-witch hunt activists from the global north and south to provide a truly global, decolonized, anti-racist, feminist and grassroots interpretation of witch studies. Our aim is to solicit writing that, taken together, will hold in view multiple analytics simultaneously: the vast range of behaviors and practices that fall under the banner of witchcraft around the globe; the enduring power of the witch as a symbol of uncontrollable, mysterious, evil, excessive, failed, hyper-sexual, ugly, self-determined, barren, and aging femininity; the gendered and political-economic forces driving continued witchcraft accusations and witch persecutions in Asia and Africa; the global hierarchies and ethnocentrism that inhibit Americans’ awareness of contemporary witch hunts (and that reproduce an historical narrative placing witch hunts in the distant past); the relationship between the witch and her cultural alter egos (the curandera, the crone, the midwife, the goddess, the shaman, the priestess); and the undeniable allure of the witch, who transfixes us with her power and her hunger for revenge.
Topics may include:
ABOUT THE EDITORS
Soma Chaudhuri is Associate Professor of Sociology at Michigan State University whose research lies at the intersection of gender, development, social movements and violence. She is the author of Tempest in a Teapot: Witches, Tea Plantations, and Lives of Migrant Laborers in India (Lexington, 2013), a book that looks at incidents of witch hunts in an Adivasi labor community in India. Chaudhuri’s research (including the ones from the research on witch hunts) has appeared in American Journal of Sociology, Mobilization; Research in Social Movements, Conflict and Change; Sociology of Development; Contexts; and Sociological Forum among others. Her research has been funded by several grants including the National Science Foundation and Social Science Research Council.
Jane Ward is professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies at University of California Riverside, where she teaches courses in feminist, queer, and heterosexuality studies. Ward is the author of multiple books, including the Prose Award winner and Lambda finalist The Tragedy of Heterosexuality, described by The New York Times Book Review as "at heart a somber, urgent academic examination of the many ways in which opposite-sex coupling can hurt the very individuals who cling to it most. " Her book Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men (2015) was featured in Newsweek, New York Magazine, Forbes, The Guardian, BBC, Washington Post, USA Today, Huffington Post, Salon, Vice, and Slate. Her first book, Respectably Queer: Diversity Culture in LGBT Activist Organizations, was named by The Progressive magazine as a best book of 2008 and has been featured on NPR.