The Fetishization of Albinos in Tanzania
From abstract: "While rumors of organ stealing and the efficaciousness of albino body parts have been going on for a long time in Tanzania, there seems to be a recent spike in the killing of albinos. These killings are an intensification of an old story that began in pre-colonial Central Africa. People materialize and utilize fetishized notions of the productive magic of albino body parts. The consumption of magical paraphernalia supposedly made from albinos’ bodies is imagined to counteract the decline of the fishing industry. The story of albino killings is about the fantastic speculation of value, and this value supports the localized economy. This illustrates the desire to create and sustain specific market commodities out of albino body parts. Some say this is a story about the economy, the neoliberal, or a functionalist explanation of albino killings. Others suspect this is ultimately a story of the cumulative effects of the circulation of rumor and discourse. These contrasting views are woven to tell the story of alleged albino killings while presenting an alternative interpretation, which suggests that Tanzanian elite utilize these rumors to gather social authority and political legitimacy while benefitting from the moral hierarchy of modernity versus tradition.
Caroline Ackley
63
Albino, killings, myths, Tanzania, economics