On Studying Witchcraft As Women’s History: A Historiography of the European Witch Persecutions

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Barstow’s work aims at providing facts that suppose witchcraft to be a part of women’s history. The author explains women’s history before and after the Middle Ages in which prior to this era, female roles included healers, counselors, and midwives. However, a shift in the perception of women occurs, especially during the 16th century in which the society change their view of females into a more incriminating one by accusing them of witchcraft. Additionally, Barstow offers a broad analysis of female’s sexuality which was presumed to be the center of the desire by men and other threatened women to control them. Thus, the use of witchcraft claim, punishable by death seemed an ideal measurement and a part of women’s history. All this information was beneficial for this study. Currie, Elliot. “Crimes without Criminals: Witchcraft and Its Control in Renaissance Europe.” Law & Society Review, 1968, (3)1, 7-32. Currie’s study involve a different dimension that one used by Barstow in which the author evaluates witchcraft as a form of deviant behavior and the social control systems used as a measurement. The author gives a historical overview of witchcraft in England and Europe at large as well as the different views about it including illusion and how these opinions changed over time to becoming a serious threat in the 15th century. Currie also portrays witchcraft as an industry generating revenue for the involved parties, except the defendants. This perspective indicates that authorities and legal systems used witchcraft allegations as a means to obtain profits even in the absence of factual deviance which gave a different viewpoint for this research. Monter

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