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September 2022

Soc Sci Med. 1988 ; 27(5): 437-43.

Supernaturalist curers and sorcery accusations in Thailand.

Golomb L.

Department of Sociology and Anthropology, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030.

Thailand's supernaturalist practitioners are both respected for their curative powers and feared as potential sorcerers. When sorcery is diagnosed, exorcists generally implicate other practitioners as the source of the supernatural aggression. Given the often grave nature of such accusations, how have supernaturalist curers been spared from persecution during times of adversity? This paper examines three different sets of restraints that have evolved in three different regions of Thailand to protect supernaturalist curers from excessive accusations that could lead to harassment. The unique local character of each set of restraints is shown to be shaped by such factors as the availability of modern medical facilities, local methods of conflict resolution, local spirit beliefs, and the presence or absence of ethnic outgroup practitioners.

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