An Analysis of the Geography of Witchcraft
Benjamin C. Ray wrote “The Geography of Witchcraft Accusation in 1692 Salam Village” in order to imply that geographic analysis of the witchcraft accusation, economic, religious as well as social status shows there was no significant east-west division within Salam Village. In the article, Ray points out that the map included in Salam Possessed is not only interpretive but also incomplete.
He states that there was an inconsistency in giving a numerical count of accusers and accused in the village. Moreover, he questions about the setting of the demarcation line at the center of the map. Ray also offers a revised map of the accusation due to incorrect number of accuser and accused and intended exclusion of eight afflicted girls and the five villagers. From the revised map, Ray reveals that there is no significant division.
Conversely, Boyer and Nissenbaum stated that inclusion of the eight afflicted girls would not significantly change the geographic pattern because they were not “decisive shapers” and also six of eight were not living in the parents’ house during the witchcraft outbreak. Although Boyer and Nissenbaum provided a wide range of information related to the accusation, they failed to present data as given in sources and convincing explanations. Apparently, they intended to show the division in the Village by looking at the map.
However, Ray not only indicates errors contained in the map but also reveals the different possible interpretation which can be drawn conclusion from the revised map. I believe the use of the map for illustrating the east-west division of the witchcraft accusation in inappropriate. for omission of accusers and location of the demarcation line, and Boyer and Nissenbaum introduced idea of geographic distribution in the patterns of witchcraft accusation in the first chapter of Salem Possessed.