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A Conversation with Julian Goodare

© Malcolm Goodare
© Malcolm Goodare

Words: Alice Spasaro and Rachel Sharp

Political historian Dr. Julian Goodare released his new book on the Early Modern witch-hunts last month. Buzz took a moment to catch up with Edinburgh University’s Reader in History to discuss his new book and all it might entail.  

 

Aside from his works on Scottish agriculture and government during the Early Modern period, Dr. Julian Goodare has written a breadth of material on the Scottish witch-hunts. According to Goodare though, his latest publication, The European Witch-Hunt, will study the phenomena of Early Modern witch-hunting from a European perspective, and Scotland will receive no special treatment.

Far from leaving witches in the distant past of fairy tales and folklore, the Early Modern witch-hunts are a fascinating and popular subject of study that draw interesting parallels between society then and now. Dr. Goodare says that these stories “help us to understand persecution and intolerance” and, indeed, issues with a very contemporary resonance are discussed in The European Witch Hunt. The longest chapter in the book, for instance, is dedicated to issues of gender during the Early Modern European witch-hunts as the percentage of women among those accused was around a staggering 80%.

In the final chapter of his latest publication, Dr. Goodare looks at witch-hunting alongside modern instances of persecution, such as the panic over Satanic ritual abuse in the USA and Britain in the 1980s and 1990s. He also discusses what we can learn from witch-hunting more generally and about how we stereotype our enemies: “If we persuade ourselves that our enemies are wholly bad and that we are wholly good, that may imply that we can do whatever we like to those enemies. That happened in the early modern witch-hunts, and it sometimes happens today.”

The paperback version of The European Witch-Hunt was made available from Routledge on 26 May. Click here to order your copy now.


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