Witchcraft, Conflict and Mediation: The role of Semantics and Rhetoric for conflict resolution in the village Dhauliguri of Kokrajhar, Assam, India

Main Article Content

Jyotishman Taye , Sushil Sinha, A. F. Gulenur Islam Barbhuiya


Northeast India, a hub for various tribal communities, witnesses innumerable conflict in the past many decades. However, with the strong role of traditional leaders working under the customary laws, such conflict is kept under control and solved. Against this backdrop, the paper wants to attempt to highlight that traditional leaders can solve the conflict that arises out of witch-hunting practices in tribal areas of Assam. Witchcraft and its impact are deeply rooted in the form of insecurity across the tribal societies. Often labeling somebody witch also includes personal motives such revenge based, property dispute, male chauvinism or patriarchy, sexual orientation, or scapegoating for perpetrating witch-hunting. The victim can be blamed for illness or diseases to her family or neighbors, dying of the cattle in their neighborhood, or failure in crop cultivation during the harvest seasons (Islam & Ahmed, 2017). Using Max Gluchman analysis of the concept of semantics and rhetoric in the study of ritual and judicial processes and how judges manipulated culturally constituted notions to inform their rhetoric and finesse the ambiguity inherent in rules. Its emphasis on communication and dialogue enveloped by ritual and judicial processes is essential for conflict resolution. It has been argued that mediation and dialogue played a significant role in the litigation of conflict arising due to witchcraft. Although there is no doubt that beliefs in fear of witchcraft persisted, and witch-hunting is still widespread, however the atmosphere of conflict between parties can be resolved.

Article Details