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Prospects and pitfalls of a global history approach to the early-modern European witch hunt.

Arguably, global history covers everything that has happened to man in time and on Earth. Or conversely," all aspects of past human activity and belief" (1) fall properly into the domain of a global history examination. As such, global history stands in sharp contrast with traditional historiographical schools, which either square history within the nation-state container, or are regionally/culturally structured, leading almost inevitably to the dualistic dilemma of civilization versus barbarism. The approach is laden with problems and frustrations. For one thing, fits of barbarism erupt within the epicenter of civilization itself, sometimes lasting centuries, one example being the early-modern European witch hunt, which the historian Rossell Hope Robbins (1912-1990) denounced as a "shocking nightmare, the foulest crime and deepest shame of modern civilization, the black-out of everything that ... reasoning man has ever upheld." (2)

This paper is not to argue that global history provides the only viable perspective and methods for eliminating this apparent dilemma, but rather that the global history approach does yield important insights. In a nutshell, this paper aims to offer a critique of current scholarship on the early-modern European Witch-hunt, advocating a global history treatment. It intends to show, from the perspective of global history, that the early-modern European witch hunt was unique but not exceptional; along with witchcraft, it is a perennial human fact; was underlined by a plethora of human factors, the gist of which is none other than a power game, scapegoating, and persecution of the Other; needs triggering, in the form of personal animosity, social tension, or natural haphazardness, among other factors.

The Problem: The early-modern European witch-hunt has attracted so much recent scholarly attention that the topic has earned the status of a "genre in its own right," (3) and, consequently, the amount of witchcraft literature is volunious. Simply put, historical explanations of the episode run as follows: 1) witchcraft as male ficium (sorcery), when coupled with the notion of a pact with the Devil, was perceived as a diabolical endeavor, and this, in turn, generated the intellectual foundation for witch persecution; 2) the shift from accusatorial to inquisitorial procedures facilitated legal torture, boosting the size and momentum of the witch craze, (4) which, in turn, led to widespread "judicial murder;" 3) the Reformation served to intensify witch-hunts in a period of religious and social turmoil, especially throughout the Holy Roman Empire, and particularly in Germany; 4) though witch persecutions showed variations in terms of size and locale, the typical accused witch was a poor, old, ugly hag, often widowed, and known as a bitter gossip; 5) witchcraft beliefs and witch persecutions declined as a result of four factors, namely: anew judicial climate in which evidence of a crime was demanded, as well as credible crime witnesses; a "disenchantment of the world" (5) with a rejection of the mysticism of religion and a turning toward amore mechanical, rationalistic worldview; the rise of religious pluralism; and a general amelioration of the social condition. (6)

This neat explanation, however, leaves major problems unresolved. For example, what were the ultimate drives behind this frenzied, human-orchestrated atrocity? Rationalists regard witchcraft beliefs as resulting from delusion and the witch-hunt a deliberate attempt by the Church to crack down on dissidence for its own benefit; romanticists contend that witchcraft practices and alleged sabbats, or covens, were historically true and represented a perennial pagan resistance to Christian belief and practices; and social scientists depict the witch-hunt as a product of enormous social strain at a time of dramatic change. (7) Agendas (8) aside, all three schools are sympathetic with the persecuted ones; few scholars today find much agreement with Sprenger and Kramer--authors of the Malleus maleficarum (Hammer of Witches)of 1484--who presented the side of the persecutors. Were the persecutors not at all justified in what they wrote and did? Levack, for one, provides a clue to partially answering this, i.e., the "fear of rebellion." For at least in late-medieval or early-modern Europe, it was widely held that "Rebellion is the mother of witchcraft." And the fear was not groundless, for "the numerous calamities of the late fourteenth century, most especially the Black Death, may have encouraged intellectuals to assume greater demonic intervention in the world..." (9) Equally confusing is the decline of witchcraft beliefs and the witch hunt. (10)

The result is that this episode in European history continues to be shrouded in the mists of a "proliferation of theories," which has created "more confusion than enlightenment." (11) It is certainly reasonable to recognize that the early-modern European witch hunt was "multi-causal," (12) but one is slow to attribute it to a collective mania, considering the length of witch hunting episodes and the legal mechanisms that were widely employed during the whole process. The least likely explanation, of course, is that there suddenly emerged countless sabbats, or covens, of witches who were practicing infanticides and cannibalism and had in mind nothing short of overthrowing the whole of Christendom, as conspiracy theorists' fantasies would have us believe.

The early-modern European witch hunt is perceived as unique, particular to a specific time and place, and nowhere else to be found if examined in isolation or in low-context profile. (13) So despite several dozen different interpretations, this period of seeming anomaly is always used to justify the exceptional quality of European history. Meanwhile, in China, the topic itself is avoided in standard world history textbooks, while a number of Chinese world historians have chosen to dwell on other issues. (14)

How do we make sense of the rise and fall of the early-modern European witch hunt? Standing farther back, one may ask: Were witch hunts unique to early-modern Europe and English North America?

The Methods: For Chinese historians studying the early-modern European witch hunt, perhaps the only thing they can possibly rely on is just common sense, often prevented as they access archival materials. That means they have to rely largely on "second-hand" materials--other historians' interpretations and edited sourcebooks as well--in musing on just about any topic in world history. It is not a comfortable position, professionally. (15) But this can be turned into an advantage: the lapse of time and a sociopsychocultural distance could provide vistas unavailable to people nearer at hand, the gist of which is aptly captured in a short poem by the eleventh-century Chinese poet Su Shi titled "Written on the Wall of Xilin Monastery":
   Horizontally we see a range of hills, and
   sideways a peak,
   Each perspective and altitude shift gives a
   different shape.
   The true face of Lushan is not to be revealed,
   To one lost in its misty haze.


So it is my wish that I, an outsider to Western mainstream culture, and one who, within a Confucian tradition, embraces a holistically humane approach, with the help of a global history perspective, might be naturally endowed with a vision that possibly contributes to unveiling the "true face" of the early-modern European witchcraft and witch hunt.

History sets out to account for what actually happened. But that is only part of the job of historians. They are burdened with the task of detecting patterns of continuity and change, helping to shape wiser, healthier minds and sustainably happier lives.

Historians are detectives and doctors at the same time. Detectives find; doctors save. Both are eagle-eyed and cool-minded. And on the basis of the above model, historians can set out to integrate individual experiences, social encounters, and natural environment transformations, detecting the struggling, shifting, intertwining, interacting, mutually reinforcing or confining among them, all of which results in an order arising out of chaos, an order of the holistic dynamism of change. (16)

Beyond that, global history is a conscious attempt to break away from over-professionalization in historical studies, (17) the rigid nation-state paradigm, and the prevalence of Eurocentrism, to name but three phenomena against which it stands. So instead of simply searching within the boundaries of nation-states, regions, or civilizations, global historians look at the globe and human societies as a whole to make sense of humanity's adventure on Earth; they stare into life or the world itself to see what it can yield about the human existence, from above and below, from within and all around.

The Solution: The need for a global treatment of the early-modern European witch hunt has gradually surfaced. The publication of the six-volume Witchcraft and Magic in Europe series (18) testifies to the perennial appeal of witchcraft beliefs, and sporadic outbursts of "witch hunts," even in the 21st century, are manifestations of this. It is also a hopeful sign that the geographical and chronological coverage of witchcraft studies has increased in recent years, while global and interdisciplinary approaches to witchcraft are steadily being published, as the global perspective continues to yield a number of astoundingly new findings.

First, it has been discovered that witchcraft beliefs or even witch hunts have never ceased both as manifestations of a human psychological need to account for the inexplicable, and in the service of certain economic or political agendas, which dampens, if not totally destroys, the notion of early-modern European exceptionalism in regard to its witch hunts. lf it were only ignorance, religious dogma, and the lack of advanced sci-tech means that led to witchcraft beliefs in the late Middle Ages, how can one explain the widespread witchcraft beliefs in some of the world's most developed countries in the contemporary world? (20) Besides, witchcraft beliefs have been long cherished by Africans, Asians, Amerindians, Australian aborigines, as well as Europeans, (21) and witch hunts or quasi-witch hunts flare up in cases of inexplicable disasters or political agenda-setting, almost always within the context of a conspiracy theory.

It must be admitted that for any event to happen, for any response to be elicited such as the legitimated use of violence against an alien "Other," there must be a plethora of factors at work. First and foremost, there must be a perceived danger to individuals, to the power hierarchy, or to the moral order of society. To a large extent, this scenario exemplifies the spirit of why witches are hunted almost everywhere. In "Why Salem Made Sense," Isaac Reed demonstrates that the fears and anxieties that drove the people of Salem to execute twenty of their own men and women, cannot be reduced to political uncertainty, economic competition, or village jealousy; rather, it made sense to the Congregationalists in Massachusetts because it was a set of actions in defense of an emotionally charged order of morality, metaphysics, and sex--the Puritan world view. What Salem put at stake was not only the self-conscious collective identity of the Puritans as God's chosen people, but also the nature and place of men and women, and their relationship to the invisible world of God and the devil. It was the understanding of gender inside Puritan culture that enabled husbands to turn on their wives, "good" women to accuse "bad" ones, and high-minded judges to believe them. (22)

Taken as a whole, it is only natural that monotheistic Christian dualism would have bred heresy and the zeal of persecution lavished on the alien Other. This points to the sociocultural climate of the late-Middle Ages of European society as the single most important factor feeding into the early-modern witch hunt, this despite the concept of diabolism triggered by various natural disasters, including the Black Death and the Little Ice Age, (23) and despite the legal facilitation of torture, which served only as a means to an end of persecution. In short, the witch hunt was the logical outcome of a dualistic scheme of things. Consequently unless people can arm themselves with anew set of values that honor harmonious development, accommodate differences, place human beings above cultural orientations, and transcend conflicts, new rounds of witch hunt or pseudo-witch hunts are likely to recur.

Most cultures have narratives or myths in which the "Other," apprehended as a blameworthy stranger, is sacrificed as a scapegoat. Cultural identity is affirmed by holding the stranger responsible for the ills of society and sacrificing him or her accordingly. The biblical scapegoat symbolically laden with all the guilt of the Israelites is reenacted, usually in human form, right down to the present day. Jews, lepers, heretics, witches, shamans, pagans, Gnostics, Sufis, infidels, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Native Americans, Negroes, homosexuals, and atheists, have all been cast in this role. The alien Other is also experienced as a demonic monster, as quasihuman but degenerate, exceeding the bounds of human decency, inspiring unease, disquiet, and even terror.

The perception and persecution of the "Other" as a threat has persisted throughout history. The elimination of the Philistines by the Israelites (Amos 1:6-8), the destruction of Carthage by the Romans, the massacres of "infidels" by Christians and Muslims alike during the Crusades of the 12th and 13th centuries, the extermination of the Huguenots by Louis XIV, the Spanish conquest of Meso- and South America, the state-inspired slaying of Jews in tsarist Russia, the bounty imposed on Apache scalps in 19th-century Mexico, and the extirpation of Beothucks in Newfoundland, are all examples of attempts to kill off an unwanted "Other." Yet all these pale against the "systemic slaughters" of the 20th century, which makes it indisputably the bloodiest and most barbarous century, hardly deserving the name of "civilization." (25)

Conspiracy theory, (26) the "erroneous view that whenever something evil happens, it must be due to the evil will of an evil power," (27) is the natural outgrowth and companion of such demonizing tendencies. Despite Sir Karl Popper's sober yet vehement attack, conspiracy theory does not seem to have lost its staying power, especially in the United States. In his essay on Communism, motherhood, and Cold War movies, Michael Rogin identifies three major moments in the history of demonology in American politics, in "inventing" enemies as targets of attack to define the U.S.A.'s own cultural identity. (28) That was what drove Thomas Jefferson to describe the motives of King George III as "the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states"; (29) that was how the former Soviet Union almost immediately replaced the Nazis and the Japanese (who had earlier usurped first place from but never fully replaced "Indians" or "blacks" and the immigrant working classes) as the new "perceived" threat to America during the Cold War, as savage, alien, and fit to be eliminated. (30)

So far, I have a feeling of marching into unknown lands. But this piece of common sense is not yet lost to me: in studying witchcraft and witch hunts, historians' eyes are filled with bitterness and bloodshed if they allow their eyes to be fixed on the cruelties of the human past, to the deprivation of the wholesomeness and meaningfulness of human existence on earth and in the universe. The historians' aim remains clear, i.e., to help build amore harmonious and sustainable human society where creativity and happiness reign. Following the logic of conspiracy theorist, what we refer to as "witch hunting," or anything like it, is highly likely to recur in a time of rapid change coupled with unexpected, unfathomable disasters. So even though we as historians are seemingly entrusted with the duty of reminding the world of the evil and vain barbarity of scapegoating, we cannot guarantee that it will not happen again; for once it gets started, it has a life of its own. For example, in times of war, soldiers, with no obvious "propensities toward rape, sexual sadism, or sadistic violence in civilian life," might resort to rape, torture, random killing, and mutilation. (31)

Prospects and Pitfalls: Witchcraft studies, or, more specifically, the study of early-modern European witch hunts, may well turn out to be a tester of the possibilities and limits for historical inquiry and research. It is perhaps impossible for historians to provide definitive explanations of even the core factors behind the formation, ardor, and execution of witch persecutions in early modern Europe. Perhaps it was simply an attempt to get rid of swarming dissidents in an age of sociopolitical turmoil on the part of the powerful but declining Church and the burgeoning nation-state. Was there really a paradigm shift with empirical science replacing dogmatic Christianity, thus shaking the foundation of the latter? But Christianity stands firm and sound even in the contemporary world, with the number of Christian believers alone approaching over two billion worldwide. (32) Just as the decline of Catholic Christianity's authority and the rise of state power might have triggered large-scale witch hunts, the state decline in Nigeria is already followed by the "return" of occult power and the eruption of witch persecutions. (33) Religious pluralism is customarily lauded as a terminating factor of the great witch hunt, yet the current trend toward a multicultural globe often accompanies demonological predictions of clashes and conflicts. (34) Is the world heading toward anew global order or chaos?

As much as witchcraft studies have benefited from enlarging perspectives and cross-disciplinary scholarship, much more remains to be done. Needless to say, much of the previous invaluable regional research needs to be incorporated into a global history of witchcraft and witch hunt. And such an endeavor calls for joint transdisciplinary efforts; it demands institutional collaboration; it urges historians to go both wider and deeper in search of elements bolstering human development and interactions, giving rise to patterns of continuity and change, taking insights and clues from both regional microhistorical analysis and a sweeping global vision of the human adventure on earth.

Moreover, global historians face the challenge of accommodating both a macroscopic vision and vivid details, thereby composing grand historical narratives that are alive with the joys and sorrows of humanity.

Conclusion: If it is true that concerning witchcraft, "we know far too little," (35) we might as well acknowledge that there's much more that remains to be uncovered in order to construct of a global history of witchcraft. The problem of evil resurfaces in the contemporary world as a result of intermittent horrifying disasters, either mysteriously visiting or overtly befalling various societies; in meeting the challenge human solidarity is called for to eliminate the evil. Buddhism finds an escape from this dilemma in an abolition of all selfish desire, Confucianism, in a hierarchy of human relationships and proper conduct, and Christianity in good triumphing over evil. lf the current constitution of modern human existence is shaped by generations of human efforts, global historians must see it as incumbent upon them to make sense of all of this.

Sun Yue

Capital Normal University

ENDNOTES

(1) Alfred J. Andrea and James H. Overfield, (eds.) The Human Record: Sources of Global history,2vols. 6th ed. (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company,2009), Prologue, p. 1.

(2) See Rossell Hope Robbins, The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology (London: 1959), p. 3, quoted in Scarre and Callow, Witchcraft and Magic in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Europe,2nd ed. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2001), pp. 2-3. One does not seem to be accountable for even the "foulest crime" committed during "black-outs of reason" or sleep. But the whole thing was deliberate and legally supported!

(3) Darren Oldridge, (ed.) The Witchcraft Reader (London: Routledge, 2002), p. 1; Wolfgang Behringer, Witchcraft Persecutions in Bavaria. Popular Magic, Religious Zealotry and Reason of State in Early Modern Europe, trans. J. C. Grayson and David Lederer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), p. 1, n. 1.

(4) Brian P. Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, 2nd ed. (London: Longman, 1995), p. 2. The "mania" explanation typifies a pathological model, essentially progressivistic. Robert Scribner thus sums up the evolution of witch hunts: "An accusation of witchcraft is brought against an individual and stirs up deep-seated fears and anxieties; persons are interrogated, accomplices sought, confessions made and other persons named; the list of suspects grows longer as the activity of witchcraft is revealed as a widespread conspiracy, precipitating a moral panic in the community at large. The net of complicity spreads out to encompass those apparently above reproach: potentially everyone within the community is implicated. There are interrogations under torture, burnings, arising tide of panic, until even the very judges themselves are suspect. Then the boil bursts, the fever burns itself out and the exhausted social body is left to recuperate as best it can." This explanation is "fundamentally flawed," argues Scribner, insisting on an empathetic understanding of the role of popular magic, sorcery or witchcraft as "embedded in the texture" of the early modern European "daily life" before historians can come to terms with this period of seeming "anomaly." See Robert W. Scribner, "Witchcraft and Judgement in Reformation Germany," History Today(Apr., 1990): 12-19.

(5) The term "Entzauberung der Welt" is derived from Max Weber, who first elaborated on the thesis of "disenchantment of the world" in a1917 lecture, pinpointing the retreat of a magical, animistic world, and therefore, the loss of meaning in a rational, secularized, bureaucratic world. See Max Weber, "Science as a Vocation," in H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, (eds.)From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (NewYork, 1946), pp. 129-156, quoted in Michael Saler, "Modernity and Enchantment: A Historiographical Review," The American Historical Review, Vol. 111,lssue 3(Jun., 2006): 692-716, n. 5. According to Weber: "the increasing rationalization and intellectualization.. .means that principally there are no mysterious incalculable forces that come into play, but rather that one can, in principle, master all things by calculation. This means that the world is disenchanted," see Weber, "Science as a Vocation," p. 139. Weber saw "disenchantment" as a "great historic process in the development of religions ... which ... came here to its logical conclusion." See Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, trans. Talcott Parsons (New York, 1958), p. 105, quoted in Robert W. Scribner, "The Reformation, Popular Magic, and the 'Disenchantment of the World,'" Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. 23, No. 3, Religion and History (Winter,1993): 475, n. 1. A similar thesis is argued in Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic (Harmondsworth, 1971), pp. 27-89.

(6) See, for example, Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic; Alan D. J. Macfarlane, Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1970; London: Routledge, 1999); C. Larner, Enemies of God: The Witch-hunt in Scotland (London: Chatto and Windus, 1981); Bengt Ankarloo and Stuart Clark, (eds.) Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: The Period of the Witch Trials (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002); Jonathan Barry, Marianne Hester, and Gareth Roberts, (eds.) Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe: Studies in Culture and Beliefs (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996); Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe; Gary K. Waite, Magic, and Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003); H. R. Trevor-Roper, The Crisis of the Seventeenth Century: Religion, Reformation, and Social Change (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1967).

(7) See Jonathan Barry, and Owen Davies, (eds.) Palgrave Advances in Witchcraft Historiography (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); Thomas A. Fudge, "Traditions and Trajectories in the Historiography of European Witch-hunting," History Compass, 4/3 (2006): 488-527.

(8) Rationalists were eager to install the supremacy of reason while romanticists, in protest, were perhaps too much absorbed in the "willing suspension of disbelief," or in service of the French Revolution. Feminist interpretations of the witch hunt in recent decades are perhaps another typical case of agenda-making, in that they have mainly sought to take advantage of this episode of "patriarchic atrocity" to work out a feminist witch figure to their own advantage, hence the legendary nine million witch martyrs for the feminist cause. So although the exact number of persecuted witches supported by serious academic historians is no more than 60,000, feminists have postulated a staggering nine million! In the United States, the nine-million figure appeared in the 1978 book Gyn/Ecology by the influential feminist theoretician Mary Daly, who picked it up from a 19th-century American feminist, Matilda Joslyn Gage in Woman, Church and State (1893; reprint, Watertown, Mass.: Persephone Press, 1980), pp. 106-7. See also Diane Purkiss, The Witch in History: Early Modern and Twentieth-Century Representations (London and New York, 1996), p. 28, n. 23. Miriam Starhawk, an influential figure in the modern witchcraft movement, claims "to be a witch is to identify with nine million victims of bigotry and hatred." This is certainly unreliable, for she says at the beginning "[a]ccording to our legends." See Miriam Simos Starhawk, The Spiral Dance. Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess,10th anniversary edition with anew introduction and chapter by chapter commentary (Harper,1989; orig. 1979), p. 22.

(9) See Levack, pp. 64-67.

(10) For a gruesome individual case, see Adrian Howe and Sarah Ferber, "Delivering demons, punishing wives: False imprisonment, exorcism and other matrimonial duties in a late 20th-century manslaughter case," Punishment Society, Vol. 7, No. 2(2005): 123-146, which details Australia's most famous "exorcism-woman's laughter" case, in which a woman, Joan Vollmer, underwent an "exorcism" performed by four people, resulting in her death on January 30, 1993. For some of the latest publications on witchcraft in Africa, see Andrew Apter, "Atinga Revisited: Yoruba Witchcraft and the Cocoa Economy, 1950-1951," in J. Comaroffand J. Comaroff, (eds) Modernity and its Malcontents: Ritual and Power in Postcolonial Africa (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993); Misty Bastian, "'Bloodhounds Who Have No Friends': Witchcraft and Locality in the Nigerian Popular Press," in Modernity and its Malcontents; Peter Geschiere, The Modernity of Witchcraft: Politics and the Occult in Postcolonial Africa (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1997); Adam Ashforth, Madumo: A Man Bewitched (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000); Elias Kifon Bongmba, African Witchcraft and Otherness: A Philosophical and Theological Critique of Intersubjective Relations (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2001). One wonders: have witchcraft beliefs and witch hunt really declined?

(11) Levack, p. 2.

(12) Levack, p. 3; Robin Briggs, "'Many reasons why': witchcraft and the problem of multiple explanation," in Jonathan Barry, Marianne Hester, and Gareth Roberts, (eds.) Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe: Studies in Culture and Beliefs (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 49-63.

(13) Green and Bigelow list three things that set Europeans "far apart from most other peoples at most other times and places": "Between 1500 and 1700 they set sail in tall ships and explored and colonized the far corners of the globe. They made stunning strides forward in the sciences. And they executed tens of thousands of people, mainly women, as witches." See Karen Green and John Bigelow, "Does Science Persecute Women? The Case of the 16th-17th Century Witch-Hunts," Philosophy, Vol. 73, No. 284 (Apr., 1998): 199. Levack, for one, regards the witch hunt as a "time-bound phenomenon," peculiar to early modern Europe and nowhere else. In the same vein, the witch hunt in early modern England is claimed to possess qualities of its own, in terms of both its lack of diabolical elements and inquisitorial procedures targeted at the accomplices of the Devil. See Levack, Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, pp. 3, 10,73-4, 83.

(14) World history textbooks in China, e.g., Wu Yujin and Qi Shirong, (eds.) Shijie shi [World history], vols. 1-6 (Beijing: Gaodeng jiaoyu chubanshe, 1994), usually make no reference to this period of seeming "anomaly" in European history. The first doctoral dissertation on this topic, "The Witch-Hunt amidst the Great Transformation" (Yao Peng, Beijing Normal University, 2005), dwells on the "intricacy, complexities, and paradoxes of the early modernization process," while other pioneering efforts in this regard place the witch hunt in anew wave of patriarchal reformulation in early modern times, resulting in the persecution of women, see Xu Shanwei, "Reality and Theoretical Foundation of the Persecution of Women in Europe, 1500-1800," World history, No. 4(2007): 82-91; and his "Patriarchal Reformulation vs. the Persecution of Women during the European Witch-hunt," Studies in Historical Theory, No. 4 (2007): 34-41.

(15) It is often said and basically true that a historian's competence approximates the quantity of archival materials available to him or her. But there is something else, vision. Confinement to the mythic structure of the nation state, for example, can often result in one's inability and failure to view the rise and fall of the nation state itself.

(16) This is different from Kant's universalistic a priori; instead it is based upon faithful transcriptions of humanly accessible facts and a posteriori generalizations. See Immanuel Kant, Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View (1784).

(17) E.g., history study in China is usually further segmented to Chinese History and World history, with the latter covering what is outside Chinese History, which are mutually exclusive. Each is trained and expected to know his/her own stock in trade, with no communication whatever between the two, to say nothing of integration. For this reason, in China the term "Global history "has been coined to indicate what is elsewhere known as "world history." Concerning over-professionalization, here is an enlightening story about the awkward chef: A royal chef once had a holiday and went back to his ancestral home. Rural folks, neighbors, and villagers were enthusiastic about this and asked him to cook them a few dishes so that they would have a chance to taste royal cuisine. To their disappointment, the chef told them he worked at the pastry department, meaning he could not cook a dish. All right, make us some dumplings, requested the villagers. There was a sparkling in the eyes of the chef, since that was just his specialty. Yet upon second thought, he told them that was beyond him since his specialty was the dumpling exterior. You could see that even royal dumpling skins were appealing to these eager faces of this marginal region. But again, the chef declined, saying he couldn't roll the dough for making dumpling hides! So the villagers didn't get what they desired. I got this story from Associate Professor Hao Peng of our English Education Department, when we were on an experience-sharing outing, when the faculty unanimously denounced the over-specialization of the current education system.

(18) Ankarloo and Clark, (eds.) Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: Biblical and Pagan Societies; Ancient Greece and Rome; The Middle Ages; The Period of the Witch Trials; Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries; The Twentieth Century (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999, 2002).

(19) Wolfgang Behinger, Witches and Witch-Hunts: A Global history (Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2004); Ronald E. Hutton, "The Global Context of the Scottish Witch-hunt," in Julian Goodare, (ed.) The Scottish Witch-hunt in Context (Manchester University Press, 2002). For interdisciplinary efforts, see Ronald E. Hutton, "Anthropological and historical approaches to witchcraft: Potential for anew collaboration?" Historical Journal, Vol. 47, No. 2(2004).

(20) According to Behringer, Witches and Witch-Hunts, pp. 11-46, esp. 21-22, in West Germany, "as table minority of about 10-15 per cent" of Germans still believe in witches! And the "ideal type" of witch-believer is female, aged, living in rural areas, featuring low education, low social status, and political conservativeness. Die Hexe in Germany, la strega in Italy, vampires in Romania--belief in supernatural creatures or humans with supernatural and even diabolical powers is still part and parcel of Western thought; then there is the evil eye of Middle Eastern-Mediterranean cultures. In comparison, 66 percent of US citizens believe in the existence of the devil, "surely a temptation for American politicians." Meanwhile, Pope John Paul II (Karol Woityla, 1920-, r. 1978-2005) repeatedly confirmed the Catholic Church's conviction in the existence of a personal devil. If Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) continues preaching that the devil is "a puzzling but real, personal and not merely symbolical presence," there naturally arises the equally puzzling issue of "Who is the devil?" and another round of witch-hunts might not be far away. See Spirit Daily, April 26, 2005.

(21) The Muslims do not feature prominently in witchcraft beliefs and witch-hunt campaigns, see Behringer, Witches and Witch-Hunts, pp. 22, 34, 144, 153, 205. The "Koran does not prescribe the killing of witches," while the Bible does, frequently and emphatically.

(22) See Isaac Reed, "Why Salem Made Sense: Culture, Gender, and the Puritan Persecution of Witchcraft," Cultural Sociology, Vol. 1, No. 2(Jul., 2007).

(23) Behringer finds that the witch-hunts in Europe are found to be statistically correlative to a spell of extreme climate known as the "Little Ice Age," concentrating in the years from 1560 to 1630, the Little Ice Age's peak period. The cold climate gave rise to a subsistence crisis and drastic reduction of vine and grain produce, prompting poor farmers to retaliate against presumed culprit witches. A dramatic exception was the year 1430, which alone reports no execution of witches in what was otherwise an almost continuous frenzy of witch-hunting during the decade of 1427-1436, because that single year saw "no climatic extreme events." Further, Behringer points to the frequent accusations of witches indulging in weather magic that was responsible for "unnatural weather," which destroyed crops and drove grain prices up, despite the official teaching of theologians who rejected popular beliefs in weather magic. That is to say, climate anomalies and the ensuing subsistence crises were attributed to the deeds of so-called "evil persons," transformed and personified as enemies in accordance with popular beliefs in the occult. See Behringer, "Weather, Hunger and Fear: Origins of the European Witch-Hunts in Climate, Society and Mentality," German History, Vol. 13, No. 1(1995): 1-27; Behringer, "Climatic Change and Witch-Hunting. The Impact of the Little Ice Age on Mentalities," Climatic Change, Vol. 43, No. 1(1999): 335-51 for comprehensive coverage. For 1430, see Behringer, Witches and Witch-Hunts,p.65.

(24) For the persecution of heresy, see Malcolm Lambert, Medieval Heresy: Popular Movements from the Gregorian Reform to the Reformation (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishing, 2002), pp. 194-207; for persecution of pagans, Ramsay MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997); for persecution of the Jews, H. S. Q. Henriques, "The Civil Rights of English Jews," The Jewish Quarterly Review, Vol. 18, No. 1(Oct., 1905): 40-83, Maria Boes, "Jews in the Criminal Justice System of Early Modern Germany," Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. 30, No. 3(Winter,1999): 407-435, and David Norman Smith, "The Social Construction of Enemies: Jews and the Representation of Evil," Sociological Theory, Vol. 14, No. 3(Nov., 1996): 203-240; for persecution of many women as "witches" who were religious non-conformists, Jeffrey Burton Russell, Witchcraft in the Middle Ages (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1972); Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe; Kors and Peters, Witchcraft in Europe: 400-1700."

(25) Indeed, the 20th history gave rise to amore sinister type of aggression: genocide, coined and introduced into the human language by Rafael Lemkin, a Polish Jew, who survived the Holocaust and lobbied tirelessly for recognition of this particular form of mass killing of groups of people, and defined by the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 1948, as acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group. Such acts include killing members of an identifiable group, causing serious bodily harm or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life to bring about its destruction in whole or in part, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. See Donald G. Dutton, et al, "Extreme mass homicide: From military massacre to genocide," Aggression and Violent Behavior 10 (2005): 437-473.

(26) The term "conspiracy theory" was first used in the 1920s, see Peter Knight, Conspiracy Culture-American Paranoia from the Kennedy Assassination to the X-Files (London: Routledge, 2000), p. 16.

(27) Karl Raimund Popper, Conjectures and Refutations; the Growth of Scientific Knowledge (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963), p. 8.

(28) Michael Rogin, "Kiss Me Deadly: Communism, Motherhood, and Cold War Movies," Representations, Vol. 6, (1984): 1-36.

(29) Thomas Jefferson, 'The Declaration of Independence', Speeches and Documents in American History: Vol. 1: 1776-1815 (London: Oxford University Press, 1944), p. 3.

(30) Rogin, "Kiss Me Deadly," p. 1.

(31) Donald G. Dutton, et al, "Extreme mass homicide: From military massacre to genocide," Aggression and Violent Behavior 10 (2005): 437.

(32) 560 million in Europe, 260 million in North America, 480 millioninLatinAmerica,360millioninAfrica,and313million in Asia. That means almost 60% of Christians in the world today live in the Third World. In 2002, Jenkins forecast that of the expected 2.6 billion Christians in 2025, 67% would live in Africa (633 million), Asia (640 million), or Latin America (460 million). For details, see Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002). Jenkins wrote that "soon the phrase 'a White Christian' may sound like a curious and mildly surprising as 'a Swedish Buddhist,'" on p. 3.

(33) Johannes Harnischfeger, "State Decline and the Return of Occult Powers: The Case of Prophet Eddy in Nigeria," Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft (Summer 2006): 56-78. Kristin Aune, Sonya Sharma, and Giselle Vincett, (eds.) Women and Religion in the West Challenging Secularization (Ashgate, 2008); Hannah E. Johnston and Peg Aloi, (eds.) The New Generation Witches: Teenage Witchcraft in Contemporary Culture (Ashgate, 2007) may also be of reference value in this connection.

(34) For the former, see Waite, Magic, and Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe; and the latter, typically represented by Samuel P. Huntington, "The Clash of Civilizations?" Foreign Affairs, Vol. 72., No.3 (Summer 1993); The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Simon &Schuster, 1996); Richard Bernstein and Ross H. Monro, The Coming Conflict with China (New York: Alfred &Knopf, Inc., 1997; Vintage, 1998).

(35) Macfarlane, Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England,2nd ed. (London: Routledge, 1999), p. 9.
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Title Annotation:World History From Afar
Author:Yue, Sun
Publication:World History Bulletin
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Date:Sep 22, 2008
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