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Non-USA Hoodoo-like African Diasporic Folk Magic

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belle_tristesse
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Non-USA Hoodoo-like African Diasporic Folk Magic

Unread post by belle_tristesse » Fri Oct 05, 2018 3:20 pm

As I read and learn and find out about the history of hoodoo I am curious, if it came to the United States if America due to the slave trade, is there not similar arts in the UK? We had slave trade here too. But I can't seem to find literature about such practices here.

Surely if the beliefs migrated and blossomed in the United States if America it would of in some form, in Europe to?

I mean, it wouldn't be the same as we have different things available.

Does anyone know of any literature that shines light on this?

Thank you.

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catherineyronwode
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Re: Non-USA Hoodoo-like African Diasporic Folk Magic

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Fri Oct 05, 2018 4:34 pm

belle_tristesse --

This is a good question -- but only after i changed your phrase "the Americas" to the proper phrase, "The United States of America."

You see, hoodoo is not found in Brazil, or Ecuador, or Chile, or Cuba, or Mexico, or Canada. It is a cultural treasure of the United States of America.

Now, with that understood, the next premise of yours i wish to correct is embedded in the phrase "we have different things available." If by "things" you mean herbs, roots, and minerals, i would say that basically, you are correct, but you underestimate the effect of slavery on the loss of indigenous African plant materials to trans-located people and you also underestimate the 17th through 19th century (slavery-era and beyond) trade in pharmaceutical and culinary herbs. The same exploiters responsible for the Trans-Atlantic slave trade were also responsible for setting up a vast network of trade in botanical and mineral resources that stretched from Europe to Asisa overland and to both North and South America by sea.

In the era after Emancipation, freedom from slavery, accompanied by the development of railroad transport, opened opportunities for hoodoo practitioners to distribute their goods on a fully national scale in the USA. Meanwhile global trade continued to expand, until today there is no country on earth where one could not purchase, say, Cinnamon, Red Pepper, Basil, or Ginger -- even though all four of those plants were originally native to different areas of the globe.

So, with those foundational issues accounted for, the next logical question is "Why did hoodoo develop in the USA?" and the answer is -- racism and segregation!

Had black freedmen been accepted as full US citizens -- had Jim Crow apartheid never developed in the USA from 1890 to 1920 -- hoodoo would have been just another variant folklore that gradually lost its ethnic roots.

Read, for instance, the history of Swedish Trolldom in the USA. It is a story of quiet vanishing, as Swedes were first considered outsiders, but within a generation or two had become merely "white people."

The same is true of Czech American. Within three generations, only a few rural communities in the USA retained their traditions of Czech baked goods, Czech methods of brewing, or Czech folk magic.

But black Americans were denied -- forcibly and violently denied -- the opportunity to integrate, and thus their ghetto-enclosed culture remained intact. And this ghetto-preserved culture includes musical forms, cooking methods, and folk magic.

Finally, to look for types of African-derived folk magic most like hoodoo, you would want to look for other nations where African slaves were transported and exploited by British Protestants. And that, my friend, is why Jamaican Obeah is more like hoodoo than either hoodoo or obeah are like the Spanish Catholic folk magic of Cuba or the French Catholic folk magic of Haiti or the Portuguese Catholic folk magic of Brazil.

Jamaican obeah practitioners are hard to find, though. As Diana Paton explains in "Obeah Acts: Producing and Policing the Boundaries of Religion in the Caribbean" (Duke University, 2009) Obeah was first outlawed in Jamaica in 1760 during the slavery era, and even after slavery was abolished, obeah was illegal in the British-policed colonies of the Caribbean:

"Between 1838 and 1920 the law regarding obeah was remade across the Caribbean, culminating in an intense period of legislation from around 1890 to 1920. In this period anti-obeah provisions were adopted or revised by (at least) Barbados, British Guiana, British Honduras, Grenada, Jamaica, the Leeward Islands, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Trinidad.18 For most of these colonies, the legislation passed at this time lasted until well after the territories to which they applied had become independent states. In some places, including Jamaica, the legislation still stands today.

[...] The new obeah laws were continuous with those of the slavery period in understanding the wrong-doers as individuals who worked in relationships with clients.

[...] The new laws downgraded the status of the crime of obeah but expanded its scope. Some colonies introduced a new crime of consulting an obeah practitioner, in addition to the slavery-era crime of practicing obeah. Several included prohibitions on the publication or circulation of written material associated with obeah. Many colonies included provisions where possession of ritual material could be taken as prima facie evidence of guilt of practicing obeah. Finally, and most important for subsequent prosecutions, Trinidad and Tobago, British Guiana, Barbados, and Jamaica all included provisions that emphasized an interpretation of obeah as a form of fraud.

[...] Rather than attack the illegality of the obeah laws, the main tactic of the many individuals affected by them through actual and threatened prosecutions was to argue in and out of court that what they did was not obeah. The term obeah was hardly ever used by those accused of practicing it, at least in the records that are available through archival research. Instead, peopled describe the “work” that led to their arrest with a range of terms including working, doing a job, doing some good, practicing, clearing, and science. They, and others involved in obeah cases, designated the specialists who do such work as “doctors,” “professors,” “one-eyed men,” “doctormen,” “do good men,” or “four eye men.”

[...] Arguments for the decriminalization of obeah continue to be made on the basis of religious freedom, and opponents continue to respond that this is inappropriate because obeah is not a religion. The difficulties of writing obeah into the category of religion show the problems involved in using a language of liberal rights and freedoms to make claims for cultural emancipation.

I hope this is the information that you were looking for and that it provides a pointer in the right direction for your further research.
catherine yronwode

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Re: Non-USA Hoodoo-like African Diasporic Folk Magic

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Fri Oct 05, 2018 5:15 pm

By the way, Paton's excellent article is available here, for free reading, and i highly recommend it:

https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/english/ ... trevor.pdf

Good luck!
catherine yronwode

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belle_tristesse
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Re: Non-USA Hoodoo-like African Diasporic Folk Magic

Unread post by belle_tristesse » Fri Oct 05, 2018 8:05 pm

Thank you!!! That is very helpful. I am finding it fascinating to try and learn not just practices but origins.

I even started to look up hoodoo style magic practices historically in the UK. But I'm finding that a lot of things seen to be assimilated just as spells etc. Not specifically classified as what is termed hoodoo.

I am most definitly going to read the article.
Again thank you!!

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Re: Non-USA Hoodoo-like African Diasporic Folk Magic

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Fri Oct 05, 2018 9:52 pm

belle_tristesse --

Nothing in the UK would be "specifically classified as what is termed hoodoo." The term, although of Scottish origin, is used in the USA as one of several synonyms for African American folk magic. It does not refer to UK folk magic.
catherine yronwode

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