Thoroughly entangled in the legacies of colonial anthropology, witchcraft is often presented as evidence of primitiveness or superstition, or as a metaphor for reality. This paper examines a set of witchcraft objects held at the Livingstone Museum in Zambia, reading them against anthropological and political-theoretical efforts to treat witchcraft as a metaphor—for the African nation-state, capitalism, and ethnic violence, or for African ingenuity, modernity, and liberation. It argues instead that the materiality of witchcraft invites a reconceptualization of ideas of postcolonial agency and points to the limitations of liberatory politics organized around the pursuit of sovereignty.

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