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p. 454. Truthlocked

  • Malcolm Gaskill

Abstract

The history of witchcraft shows that knowledge was determined by institutions and ideologies. ‘Truth’ explains that knowledge was political, and so therefore was witchcraft. Even among the masses, witchcraft accusations were shaped by material conditions and social relations, both the substance of politics. The difference between belief and non-belief, truth and falsehood, was rarely a free choice between credulity and scepticism. It was difficult to free witchcraft from its social, religious, and political moorings because without them it had no substantive meaning. When the legal and evidential ties were cut, an entire dimension of its existence vanished and the early modern witch-hunt came to an end.

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