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Colonial magic refers to the hybrid formations resulting from efforts to extend familiar concepts to novel situations involving clashes about what counts as real. Historians long represented the Netherlands as a place that achieved cosmopolitan tolerance early and served as a refuge for dissenters from elsewhere. Colonial magic speaks to efforts to make sense that alter what they touch, both for colonized and for colonizer populations. This chapter describes role of Dutch merchants in colonial magic by putting into general circulation crucial concepts and attitudes that emerged through mercantile transactions on the west coast of Africa in the seventeenth century. In Africa itself, the twentieth century saw a shift from fetishism to witchcraft as a central concern of colonial states, which was not the case in the Indies. The chapter argues that the history of magic and witchcraft must necessarily be multi-sited. It explores the necromantic work involved in bringing the figure of the witch to the Dutch East Indies.
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