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conjuring

MADHU DUBEY


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


Extract

The system of magic and medicine that forms part of the black folk religion of vodun, which was practiced in black slave communities across the D iaspora and which continued to flourish well into the twentieth century. Often regarded as a descendant of the African priest or healer, the conjurer performed various social functions for the black community, including fortune-telling, avenging wrongs, curing psychological and physical ailments, and interpreting natural and supernatural S igns . A practice largely discredited as superstitious in the West, conjuring has been celebrated by numerous black writers as a system of alternative folk knowledge that has enabled an oppressed group to exercise psychological control over an unjust social environment. The term “conjuring” has recently acquired an increased metaphorical currency in black feminist criticism, with the publication of Marjorie Pryse's essay, “Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, and the ‘ancient power’ of black women” (1985), which claims that the black women's fictional tradition derives its unique literary authority from its recovery of black folk cultural practices such as conjuring. 1935 (1978) : Mules and Men, Part II . 1977 : Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom . 1985 : “Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, and the ‘ancient power’ of black women.” . ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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