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p. 786. Ragelocked

  • Malcolm Gaskill


In first half of the 17th century, Europe was especially prone to witch-panics fuelled by war, rebellion and economic crisis. Rather than allaying fears, witch-hunts spread them. ‘Rage’ asserts that, in the age of statebuilding, a concerted witch-hunt was an aberration, destabilizing, likely to exacerbate social division. Pressures from below could be considerable, but governors had to resist them. The Salem witch-panics were made possible by the weakness of the state. By 1750, however, the line between the spiritual and the material had shifted decisively towards the modern scientific view. In the developing world, witch-hunts still further political ends, usually without much hope that central authority will intervene constructively.

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