Society

Interview With Bethany, A Serial Expat

Every week on ExpatFocus I post several interviews with people living all around the world. While they’re all interesting in their own ways, a lot of them are very similar. People miss their family and friends, they like the cuisine except for this one disgusting thing, they’ve made friends with some expats and some locals, and they advise potential expats to do a bit of research but then just plunge in and go for it.

Infrequently, however, I come across a person whose story is both thought-provoking and fascinating. Bethany is one such individual.

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Society

This is the ePrivacy report I’ll be submitting to the European Commission

Last week I was in Brussels, and during the time when I wasn’t wandering around the city marvelling at the pretty architecture, I was sitting in a conference centre with people from the European Commission and stakeholders from around Europe to discuss the ePrivacy Directive.

Throughout the day, we were split into groups. Each group had a “host”, who led the discussion and who was required to submit a report to the European Commission within two weeks of the event.

I was the host in my group (yes, I did think about Trill all the way through 😉 ). This is my report.

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Society

The European Commission wants your input on the Internet Privacy Directive

Today I’m in Brussels with the European Commission, looking at the future of the ePrivacy Directive, which decides which data are allowed to be stored online.

The Directive covers everything from spam to advertising cookies, and the current one was put together in 2002, making it pretty ancient in internet terms.

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Academia, Society

Today I Learned about Ghanaian Witch Camps

I am, among other things, a researcher in psychology of religion. My work for the past five years has focused on two distinct religious pathways: Catholicism and Paganism. Our main projects has been about pilgrimage, looking at people’s motivations for going on religious journeys and their experiences during the treks. 

Mainly due to logistics, we’ve focused on European routes: Glastonbury, Stonehenge, Lourdes, and so on. I’ve spent a long time reading about and talking to pagans in the UK about their spiritual rituals and practices. Whilst witchcraft in the UK is still seen as being quite “odd”, it seems to be accepted as a quirky character trait; something that irritates many people within the pagan community, but that at least generally doesn’t lead to mass segregation from the mainstream. 

This weekend, I’m doing some work for a client in West Africa, looking at social media in a couple of countries there. One of these is Ghana, and I was perusing the Twitter feed of a Ghanaian news magazine when I came across a reference to witch camps. I decided to look into this further. I am fascinated by folk religions and spiritual beliefs around the world, and know very little about witchcraft outside of Europe. Beyond reading Witchcraft and Sorcery in East Africa a few years ago, I’d never really done any research on African witchcraft at all. 

In Ghana, there are a number of witch camps: small villages where people go when they have been accused of witchcraft in their home communities. Often the camps are friendly and open to strangers, with dedicated chiefs and priests to cleanse new arrivals before they are allowed into the village to live. 

Journalist Leo Igwe, visiting Kukuo witch camp in Ghana, reported that many of the witches had been there for many years, with a few in their nineties who had lived in the village since they were teenagers. Some wish to return to their old homes, but are afraid to do so because they fear for their lives; others, however, enjoy living in Kukuo and do not want to leave. 

Photographer Jane Hahn visited witch camps in Ghana to document the people living there: 

You can see more of Jane Hahn’s photographs on her website.