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Journal for the Study of Religion

On-line version ISSN 2413-3027
Print version ISSN 1011-7601


MGUMIA, Jacqueline H.. Chuma Ulete: Business and Discourses of Witchcraft in Neoliberal Tanzania. J. Study Relig. [online]. 2020, vol.33, n.1, pp.1-26. ISSN 2413-3027.

The private business sector has been expanding rapidly in urban Tanzania since the country started liberalizing its economy in the 1980s. Witchcraft discourses linked to the business sector have emerged side by side with the increased liberalization of public spaces and media. Drawing from an ethnographic study of 52 adolescents with small businesses in urban Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and a Foucauldian analysis of popular discourses on witchcraft and business, I attempt here to make sense of why witchcraft is invoked in a sector that is conventionally viewed as the realm of economic rationality in neoliberal discourses. In this article, I suggest that capital, knowledge, and markets, which continue to be presented as necessary conditions for business growth, are not sufficient in explaining why certain businesses fail and others succeed. It rather suggests context specific reasons that may explain how adolescents with small businesses end up embracing popular discourses that link business success or failure to witchcraft, such as Chuma Ulete (reap and bring). It also explains the impact that such an embrace has on the ways in which these young people with small businesses are engaging with entrepreneurship. This entails unpacking how witchcraft ends up being invoked by those who need their businesses to grow as well as explaining how they take pre-emptive measures to protect their businesses from such apparent witchcraft.

Keywords : Witchcraft; business; entrepreneurship; youth; adolescent; Tanzania; neoliberalism.

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