Publication Date

April 2018


Anu (Aradhana) Sharma




English (United States)


This thesis is a person-centered historical and reflexive ethnography about Martha Allen Carrier, my great-grandmother to the eleventh generation, who was hanged for the crime of witchcraft in Salem in 1692. I bring an anthropological lens to an oft-rewritten historical moment to investigate what happened to Martha and to Salem, putting the anthropology of religion and witchcraft in conversation with sociological, political-economic, and feminist analyses of that period in U.S. history. Alongside reconstructing Martha?s story in 17th century Salem, I autoethnographically track my own process of excavating and representing Martha?s life in the 21st century in order to bring Salem into the present and investigate the extent to which we are living in similar times. In the juxtaposition of our lives, I explore the relationship between truth and realism in storytelling, examine the difference between seeking justice and seeking scapegoats, and test the nature and weight of what we inherit from our ancestral mothers.

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