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Witches' rights are human rights

Why are a group of 8th graders trying to get a pardon for a 17th century "witch". Join us at the March 'Did you know?' community talk to find out.
17 MAR 2022
5.30 PM - 6.30 PM
Gallery, B Block, UniSQ Toowoomba
16 Mar
5.00 PM

How to Register

Register to attend in person Zoom link (on the day)
Date: 17 March 2022
Time: 5.30 PM - 6.30 PM

Gallery, B Block, UniSQ Toowoomba or online via Zoom
Download the Venue Map.

About the Talk

Witchcraft was the stuff of nightmares; possession, sabbats, shape shifting, the evil eye and more were some of the ways that people thought they saw and experienced witches and witchcraft in the European Middle Ages and early modern periods.

What connects these dark satanic fantasies with a class of 8th graders at a Massachusetts middle school? Since 2021 these 13 and 14 year old school kids have been trying to persuade lawmakers to give a pardon to Elizabeth Johnson, who lived locally in Salem.

The catch is, Johnson has been dead since the seventeenth century, but these teenagers still think it matters to clear her name. In England, Scotland, Spain and other countries where women and men (and normally more women than men) suffered punishment, people from law makers to ordinary members of the public are campaigning passionately to overturn historic accusations.

While we may think witchcraft lies in the past, memories are all around us. Queensland only abolished its remaining laws against supernatural activity in the 1990s and in popular culture from Sabrina to Doctor Who witches are still everywhere. This talk will outline not only the history of witchcraft, but the way seeking justice matters in the modern world. These campaigns for pardon will be discussed as part of dynamic part of modern life, responding to other social justice movements including the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements where facing the past becomes one of the most important ways to move into the future.

About the Presenter

Marcus Harmes wrote a PhD on English religious history and history of all types fascinates him. So does time travel, which is why the other great interest in his life is Doctor Who. He has written on both, including the 2018 biography of the late actor Roger Delgado, who originated the role of the Master in Doctor Who. He teaches humanities and legal history at UniSQ and hopes to pass his passion for the past and its importance to the present and future to his students.

Marcus Harmes




Are you new to the 'Did you know?' community talk series, or missed an episode? Catch up on our 2021 series.



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