Cotton Mather’s American Ghosts

The Puritan clergyman Cotton Mather (1663-1728) is one of the boogeymen of early American history. Among his many sins, he helped fuel the Salem witch trials that executed 20 people for witchcraft. In the trials he successfully argued that the contents of magical visions should be considered legally admissible evidence. Mather was a prolific writer. […]

“No, I’m the Real Martin Guerre!”

In 1548, Basque peasant Martin Guerre disappeared from his village in southwest France, abandoning his wife and child. Eight years later, he returned. Life improved; he was a better husband, father, and member of his community. But Guerre’s uncle brought a lawsuit against him claiming this peasant wasn’t the real Martin Guerre, but a similar-looking […]

Five Old Ibibio Women

The homeland of the Ibibio people is the delta of the Niger River in southeast Nigeria. In the mid-1960s, anthropologist Iris Andreski visited Ibibio villages in the rainforest and swamps between Calabar and Port Harcourt to interview the oldest women she could find. Her book, Old Wives’ Tales, is a collection of biographies of these […]

The Politics of the First Witches’ Sabbaths

Today, a standard component of the European myth of the witch is that witches are organized. They maintain heretical Satanic sects or covens and form a vast conspiracy to undermine the Christian order. From Faust to The Witch (2015), the idea is almost taken as a given. But it’s actually a pretty new concept. The […]

The Heretic Vendetta

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Montaillou: The Spy-Infested Anthill Village

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Talking the Tsembaga out of War

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The Confucian Village of Misfortune

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The Scheming Landlord of Magomero

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PCs on the Battlefield: the Caste War

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The Hinterkaifeck Murders

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Cargo Cult Rebellion

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Yarsagumba

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New Crop, New Jealousies: A Mystery

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Local Elections as Adventures

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