‘No “wise” men or women but real doctors!'

Stigmatizing discourses on magical healing in Ostrobothnian newspapers



magical healing, vernacular narrative, discourse analysis, stigma, cunning folk


Magical healers and physicians were among those who provided healing in the medical market of pre-modern Swedish-speaking Ostrobothnia. Using newspaper texts published in the region about local occurrences of magical healing as source material, this article examines through discourse analysis how magical healing was stigmatized in public discourse at the turn of the twentieth century. Two main discourses that stigmatize magical healing are evident from the data: the religious and enlightenment discourses. These show the power relations involved in the condemnation of magical healing as an example of the rural population’s superstition and naivity. This article offers new information about stigmatizing discourses on healing methods and practices that were considered witchcraft in a period when a community was undergoing cultural changes that affected health beliefs and power relations.




How to Cite

Kouvola, K. (2022). ‘No “wise” men or women but real doctors!’: Stigmatizing discourses on magical healing in Ostrobothnian newspapers. Approaching Religion, 12(1), 98–116. https://doi.org/10.30664/ar.110933