MARTOR no. 28 / year 2023

“Was I or Wasn’t I Bewitched?” Conversations about Magic in Rural Transylvania

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Elena Bărbulescu
The Folklore Archive of the Romanian Academy, Romania
ORCID: 0000-0002-7396-0374

Elena Bărbulescu is Senior Researcher at Romanian Academy, Cluj-Napoca Branch, Institute of “Folklore Archive of Romanian Academy.” She has main interests in ethnology, folklore, rural women and gender issues, rites of passage, childhood, and medical anthropology. Elena has more than 30 years of experience in field research in different areas of Romania.

PAGES: 89-99

KEYWORDS: Magic; witchcraft; conversation; narrative; bewitchment; rural.


For people who are familiar with my work, the topic of this paper is pretty much a surprise. I was surprised myself both by the question in the title, which I have received in my field research in medical anthropology, and an abundance of stories of bewitched people I found when I explored the relation between illness and healing. The question was addressed to me, and I sensed that it was more than a rhetorical question. The argument of the paper starts from the question in the title and what it could possibly mean for my research participants in rural parts of Cluj County. I discuss the case of a bewitched man who believes he had been subject to witchcraft and therefore tells his story in the first person. The article problematizes the local cultural context of the interviewees, especially in relation to their memories and the reasons why they continue to tell stories of witchcraft.


Bărbulescu, Elena. 2023. “‘Was I or Wasn’t I Bewitched?’ Conversations about Magic in Rural Transylvania.” Martor 28: 89-99. [DOI: 10.57225/Martor.2023.28.06]

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