CfP or the panel Refugees’ and Asylum Seekers’ Experience: Terror of Witchcraft, Cultural Memories, and Bureaucratic Violence, at the 6th European Conference on African Studies (ECAS) to be held in Paris, 8-10 July 2015


The panel aims to explore the place of witchcraft anxieties in the trajectories and narratives of refugees and asylum seekers. More particularly: how does the fear of witchcraft mark their everyday lives and gives voice to the conflicts and suspicions within families and communities? How can asylum seekers make their anxieties “credible” to Territorial Commissions and provide proof of the “mystical weapons” that threaten them? Often, these issues are reported as the experience of being haunted by neighbors or relatives, or as dreams in which they are “eaten” and possessed by invisible animals living in their bodies. For the asylum seekers, translating the idea of being persecuted by witches into humanitarian language is an “impossible task”, just a further complication in the effort to meet the eligibility criteria for International Protection. The concepts of “plausibility” and “coherence”, two of the main pillars for considering their narratives as credible, disregard the cultural forms of traumatic experience and personhood. They assume a “rational man,” with no room for other imaginaries and moralities. Focusing on various fieldworks (African and European), the panel would like to investigate the destiny of these experiences and discourses, as well as the role of neoliberal policies in forging new political subjectivities. In the background of the discussion of these issues is a more general question: how do refugees remember?

If you are interested in our panel, please submit an abstract of maximum 1500 characters (in English or in French) via the link

Andrea Ceriana Mayneri (IMAF, Institut des mondes africains)
Roberto Beneduce (University of Turin)

Skip to content
Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Facebook