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Witchy Business: Witchcraft and Economic Transformation in Salem, Massachusetts

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dc.contributor.advisor Kelly, Patricia McClain, Lia 2020-08-14T18:13:06Z 2020-08-14T18:13:06Z 2020
dc.description.abstract Salem, Massachusetts is perhaps best known for the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, in which dozens of residents of Essex county were accused of witchcraft, and nineteen were executed. For several centuries after these tragic events, Salem had little association with the supernatural or the demonic, becoming a prosperous, and later a rather decrepit, trading port. But witches emerged once more in the coastal city during the 1970's, and Witchcraft-oriented businesses have become an essential part of Salem's economy. In the last several decades, the United States has seen a significant growth in the popularity of modern witchcraft, reflected in social media, television, and perhaps above all, the marketplace. My interest is in the tension of modern Witchcraft as a deeply embodied, yet also highly commercialized practice, and the issues presented as these bodies enter the economy both as actors and as objects. This research speaks to implications for the commoditization of spiritual practices more generally, something that could perhaps be explored more explicitly in further projects. Performing archival and ethnographic research focused on historical and modern Salem, respectively, I argue that the two appearances of witches in Salem are tied to periods of economic transformation, but that the witch is treated drastically differently in these two periods as a vessel capable of alleviating economic troubles, first through her eradication, and today through her proliferation.
dc.description.sponsorship Haverford College. Department of Anthropology
dc.language.iso eng
dc.subject.lcsh Witchcraft -- Economic aspects -- Massachusetts -- Salem
dc.subject.lcsh Commercialism
dc.subject.lcsh Trials (Witchcraft) -- Massachusetts -- Salem -- 17th century
dc.title Witchy Business: Witchcraft and Economic Transformation in Salem, Massachusetts
dc.type Thesis
dc.rights.access Open Access

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