African Spirituality, the Resistance of Enslaved People, and Colonial Law in the 18th-Century Caribbean

Please Note: This is a special, 3-hour virtual session. The distinctions among “religion,” “spirituality,” “magic,” and “medicine” are often blurry. All involve an appeal to natural or supernatural knowledge and/or the power to understand, beseech, influence, or control forces shaping individual lives or communities. Such practices and beliefs are also entwined with political power and have been used by leaders of all stripes in multiple historical contexts, from monarchs and presidents to rebel leaders. These societies and cultures were strongly shaped by transatlantic slavery, the forced labor of enslaved people, and the encoding of racial difference (and fear of resistance) into colonial law. This seminar will examine some of the important scholarly work that explores the intersection of African spirituality, the resistance of enslaved people, and the law in colonial Caribbean societies. Participants will need to read approximately 40 pages of material prior to the seminar, and then will spend most of the time in the seminar discussing this material with one another and the facilitator.