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This study transgresses the received distinction between two genres: the scholarly essay and the grant proposal. An extended reflection on a research endeavor still in progress, it interrogates the methodological and conceptual questions raised, ab initio, by the effort to explore and explain an unusually perplexing phenomenon: the dramatic rise, in postapartheid South Africa, of witchcraft killings–and of their policing, both formal and informal, which has produced distinctly hybrid styles of cultural justice. Our objective is to address a number of interrelated questions concerning the description, interpretation, and analysis of (I) occult-related violence, itself legitimized locally by populist appeals to “culture” and (2) its regulation by a secular modernist state committed to, yet challenged by, the constitutional recognition of cultural difference. It is our thesis that this “epidemic” of occult-related violence, and the kinds of cultural policing that accompany it, are stark expressions of a structural contradiction within the “new” South Africa, a contradiction evinced in all postcolonies–and, increasingly, in other nation-states as well