MARTOR no. 28 / year 2023

Faire et défaire des attaques de sorcellerie dans la Lorraine (France) du XXIe siècle

[Making and Unmaking Witchcraft Attacks in Twenty-First Century Lorraine (France)]

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Déborah Kessler-Bilthauer
Université de Lorraine, France
ORCID: 0000-0002-9642-6617

Chercheure associée au Laboratoire lorrain de sciences sociales à l’université de Lorraine (France), Déborah Kessler-Bilthauer est docteure en ethnologie. Socio-anthropologue de la santé, elle est responsable du CFA Novaplace, un centre de formation pour apprentis dans le secteur médico-social. Depuis 2005, elle étudie les pratiques et les parcours de soins ainsi que les dispositifs non conventionnels qui ont cours dans cette région de France et publie régulièrement sur ces questions. Depuis plusieurs années, elle occupe bénévolement le poste de vice-présidente à la Société Française d’Ethnopharmacologie, une association qui vise à promouvoir et valoriser les médecines dites traditionnelles à travers le monde.

PAGES: 56-71

KEYWORDS: Witchcraft; healers; magic; Catholicism; rituals; cures.


If witchcraft in Lorraine (France) has been widely studied and commented on by medieval and modern historians thanks to the analysis of the context of the Inquisition, books on demonology, witchcraft trials and ordeals such as torture or the stake, this is because it has long been considered and described as a peasant superstition, even a naive belief, which disappeared decades ago. However, since the second half of the 20th century, ethnologists and social and cultural anthropologists have sought to show that witchcraft remains a living social and cultural phenomenon in many regions of France and Europe. In the same way, this article aims to affirm, with regard to the results of a long-term field survey of unwitchers-healers and their clientele, that 21st century witchcraft still constitutes an explanation of misfortune, the disease, which aims to be coherent and effective in the face of events or symptoms deemed unexplained or strange. The article also proposes implicitly to question the status, place and role of contemporary healers in a region of eastern France. It is therefore a question of enriching the reflection on the plurality of the offer of care which is deployed in French society and comes to question the monopoly of scientific medicine.


Kessler-Bilthauer, Déborah. 2023. « Faire et défaire des attaques de sorcellerie dans la Lorraine (France) du XXIe siècle ». Martor 28: 56-71. [DOI: 10.57225/martor.2023.28.04]

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Back to summary of Martor no. 28 / Year 2023