Resurrecting Cannibals

Resurrecting Cannibals

The Catholic Church, Witch-Hunts and the Production of Pagans in Western Uganda

Heike Behrend


James Currey



This is the first ethnography of the Uganda Martyrs Guild [UMG], a lay movement of the Catholic Church, and its organized witch-hunts in the kingdom of Tooro, Western Uganda.
This book explores cannibalism, food, eating and being eaten in its many variations. It deals with people who feel threatened by cannibals, churches who combat cannibals and anthropologists who find themselves suspected of being cannibals. It describes how different African and European images of the cannibal intersected and influenced each other in Tooro, Western Uganda, where the figure of the resurrecting cannibal draws on both pre-Christian ideas and church dogma of the bodily resurrection and the ritual of Holy Communion.
In Tooro cannibals are witches: they bewitch people so that they die only to be resurrected and eaten. This is how they were perceived in the 1990s when a lay movement of the Catholic Church, the Uganda Martyrs Guild [UMG] organized witch-hunts to cleanse the country. The UMG was responding to an extended crisis: growing poverty, the retreat and corruption of the local government, a guerrilla war, a high death rate through AIDS, accompanied by an upsurge of occult forces in the form of cannibal witches. By trying to deal, explain and "heal" the situation of "internal terror", the UMG reinforced the perception of the reality of witches and cannibals while at the same time containing violence and regaining power for the Catholic Church in competition for "lost souls" with other Pentecostal churches and movements.
This volume includes the DVD of a video film by Armin Linke and Heike Behrend showing a "crusade" to identify and cleanse witches and cannibals organized by the UMG in the rural area of Kyamiaga in 2002. With a heightened awareness and reflective use of the medium, UMG members created a domesticated version of their crusade for Western (and local) consumption as part of a "shared ethnography".
Heike Behrend is Professor of Anthropology and African Studies at the University of Cologne, Germany, the author of Alice Lakwena and the Holy Spirits [James Currey, 1999], and co-editor of Spirit Possession, Modernity and Power in Africa[James Currey, 1999]

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October 2011
222 pages
21.6x13.8 cm
Eastern Africa Series
ISBN: 9781847010391
Format: Hardback
James Currey
BISAC SOC002010, REL010000, HIS001000
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Table of Contents

'Eating the King': Fragments of a History of Tooro Kingship
Ethnography of Eating: Mediating Food and Power
'Eating God': Western Images of the Cannibal PART II TERROR AND HEALING IN TOORO
Crisis and the Rise of Occult Forces
Witches and Cannibals in Tooro
The Catholic Church and Religious Pluralism in Tooro
The Uganda Martyrs Guild
The Making of a Christian King and 'Pagan' Persecutions
Christian Catechists and Missionaries in Tooro
Missionaries, the Eucharist and Cannibals in Tooro
Resurrecting Cannibals
Medical Spectacles of Resurrection and Colonial Mirroring


A major and very welcome addition to the expanding Africanist literatures on religious reformations, the nature of power, and the impact of colonial and postcolonial governance on the felt body. AFRICAN HISTORY

A must read for all interested in Africa. AFRICAN STUDIES QUARTERLY

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