'Poison and enchantment rule Ruthenia.' Witchcraft, superstition, and ethnicity in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Ostling, Michael (2013) 'Poison and enchantment rule Ruthenia.' Witchcraft, superstition, and ethnicity in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Russian History, 40 3-4: 488-507. doi:10.1163/18763316-04004013

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Author Ostling, Michael
Title 'Poison and enchantment rule Ruthenia.' Witchcraft, superstition, and ethnicity in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Journal name Russian History   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0094-288X
1876-3316
Publication date 2013
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1163/18763316-04004013
Open Access Status
Volume 40
Issue 3-4
Start page 488
End page 507
Total pages 20
Place of publication Leiden, Netherlands
Publisher Brill
Collection year 2014
Language eng
Formatted abstract
How shall one understand the evidence adduced before the Kraków court against an alleged witch in 1713: that “she has lived in Ruthenia”? This article unpacks the context and effects of the early modern Polish stereotype of Ruthenian magic. Both superstition and ethnicity could be used as resources for what David Chidester calls “sub-classification,” the categorization of others as less than fully human. Both humanist poetry and ribald satire made use of such sub-classification to construct German Lutheran “heretics” as learned practitioners of literate black magic, in contrast to simple Ruthenians who, in their comic country bumptiousness, made poor candidates for a thorough-going demonization. The Witch Denounced, a (likely Jesuit) anti-witch-trial polemic of the 17th century, deploys such ethnic stereotype to defend merely superstitious Polish and Ruthenian “witches,” redirecting attention toward the threat of heretical Reform. Thus the accused Kraków witch was both victim and beneficiary of an ethnic slur – a stereotypical image that helped place her under suspicion but classified that suspicion in terms of ignorant superstition not diabolical witchcraft.
Keyword Witchcraft
Ethnicity
Demonization
Ruthenia
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
Centre for the History of European Discourses Publications
 
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Created: Sun, 17 Nov 2013, 00:04:58 EST by System User on behalf of School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry