Narratives of Obeah in West Indian Literature: Moving through the Margins

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This book explores representations of Obeah - a name used in the English/Creole-speaking Caribbean to describe various African-derived, syncretic Caribbean religious practices - across a range of prose fictions published in the twentieth century by West Indian authors. In the Caribbean and its diasporas, Obeah often manifests in the casting of spells, the administration of baths and potions of various oils, herbs, roots and powders, and sometimes spirit possession, for the purposes of protection, revenge, health and well-being. In most Caribbean territories, the practice - and practices that may resemble it - remains illegal. Narratives of Obeah in West Indian Literature analyses fiction that employs Obeah as a marker of the Black `folk' aesthetics that are now constitutive of West Indian literary and cultural production, either in resistance to colonial ideology or in service of the same. These texts foreground Obeah as a social and cultural logic both integral to and troublesome within the creation of such a thing as `West Indian' literature and culture, at once a product of and a foil to Caribbean plantation societies. This book explores the presentation of Obeah as an `unruly' narrative subject, one that not only subverts but signifies a lasting `Afro-folk' sensibility within colonial and `postcolonial' writing of the West Indies. Narratives of Obeah in West Indian Literature will be of interest to scholars and students of Caribbean Literature, Diaspora Studies, and African and Caribbean religious studies; it will also contribute to dialogues of spirituality in the wider Black Atlantic.