Date of Award

August 2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication and Rhetorical Studies

Advisor(s)

Kendall R. Phillips

Keywords

autoethnography, colonialism, indigenous feminism, paganism, postcolonial feminism, witchcraft

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

In this thesis, I seek to wed my experiences of activism, scholarship, and Pagan witchcraft community together through storied theory, in order to give an honest account of my own transformation through both scholarship and community action. I do this for many reasons. Because I want to honor the Queer interracial organizing community who saw me, built me up, opened my eyes and inspired in me an ethic of accountability and critical analysis of the world around me. Because I want to heed the call of scholars like Lisa Flores, Langford and Speight, Nakayama and Krizek to engage in reflexive scholarly praxes that explicitly seek to interrogate and disrupt colonialism and racism within the academy. Because I have felt so lonely and desperate in my search for a spiritual practice that resonates with me and doesn’t steal, erase, or perpetuate violence against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Communities. And because in engaging in this personal journey and coming to a place of fulfilment and purpose, I believe that I might be able to help someone else do this too. Specifically, I seek to demonstrate through the stories of my own experience that it’s possible to be a white scholar who engages with racism and whiteness in transparent and productive ways and who is generous and respectful towards the communities we “study,” that it’s possible to be a white witch whose spiritual praxes contribute to the liberation and decolonization of BIPOC and these lands, and finally that Pagan witchcraft communities, rituals, and identities themselves are powerful sites of potential for politicized, action-oriented transformation and coalition building. I approach Pagan witchcraft as a distinct discursive formation with complex etymologies that are entangled in the origins of the industrial, settler colonial, and white possessive culture we live in, and in so doing seek to demonstrate the value of this kind of etymological work to witches and scholars alike, as well as to defend the validity of Pagan witching discourse as a rhetorically powerful entity in and of itself. In order to do so I seek methodologies that emphasize critical reflexivity and prioritize embodied epistemologies, praxes which I find most abundant among BIPOC scholarship, Indigenous feminisms, and the radical edges of communication scholarship. Specifically, this work is a critical autoethnography that seeks to transparently weave personal narrative and scholarly theory in order to synthesize a more felt, embodied picture of the relationship between popular Pagan discourse and colonial rhetoric, and to map the potentials for a witching culture that prioritizes coalition building and action in the pursuit of social justice.

Access

Open Access

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