skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 221549 Find in a Library
Title: Ritual Crime: Anthropological Considerations and Contributions to a New Field of Study
Journal: Acta Criminologica  Volume:20  Issue:2  Dated:2007  Pages:119-137
Author(s): T. S. Petrus
Date Published: 2007
Page Count: 19
Document: PDF
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper examines the knowledge of anthropology in the assistance of law enforcement officers and policymakers to obtain a more informed perspective on the issue of ritual crime and how to deal with it.
Abstract: The investigation of ritual crime has a great deal of potential for the discipline of anthropology because, as was indicated, there are various ways in which anthropologists can contribute to a greater understanding of ritual crime. Anthropological investigations into this phenomenon expose cross-cultural differences in ideas of rationalism, while they attempt to place the religious beliefs of communities in their specific contexts. This was found to be important, not only within the context of increased multiculturalism and religious pluralism, but it is also relevant within the context of legal and community development, where it becomes clear that local communities have their own systems of law and justice and procedures of how to deal with ritual crimes as defined by these communities. However, because these communities do not exist in isolation, it is also evident that legislation and policies on ritual crime have to be sensitive to and acknowledge the belief systems of these communities. Anthropologists need to acknowledge ritual crime’s existence as a reality. The Western criminal justice system is uncertain on how to handle ritual crimes. When murder and abuse become ritual murder and ritual abuse, the framework of legislation becomes less adequate and incapable of providing the necessary information to assist the justice system in defining, investigating, and prosecuting such crime, as well as the definition of crime itself becomes more complicated. This paper attempts to show that while the issue of ritual crime is controversial, the phenomenon does indeed exist and manifests itself in various ways. Its existence is a fact because it forms part of the religious beliefs of many communities. This paper argues that anthropology could possibly play an important role in initiating steps to provide knowledge that is necessary for a more informed and a more open-minded perspective on ritual crime. Biblography
Main Term(s): Ritualistic crimes; South Africa
Index Term(s): Behavioral and Social Sciences; Crime typologies; Criminology; Cults; Cultural influences; Religion; Religiously motivated violence
Note: To access the full text PDF: 1) select the provided link; 2) from the Acta Criminologica Web site, select "Table of Contents"; 3) select the corresponding Volume and Issue (see the NCJRS abstract record for the exact Volume and Issue); 4) scroll the Table of Contents to the exact article; and 5) click on the "full text" icon Downloaded on February 13, 2008.
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.