Conjure in African American Society

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LSU Press, 2007 - Body, Mind & Spirit - 230 pages
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From black sorcerers' client-based practices in the antebellum South to the postmodern revival of hoodoo and its tandem spiritual supply stores, the supernatural has long been a key component of the African American experience. What began as a mixture of African, European, and Native American influences within slave communities finds expression today in a multimillion dollar business. In Conjure in African American Society, Jeffrey E. Anderson unfolds a fascinating story as he traces the origins and evolution of conjuring practices across the centuries.

Though some may see the study of conjure as a perpetuation of old stereotypes that depict blacks as bound to superstition, the truth, Anderson reveals, is far more complex. Drawing on folklore, fiction and nonfiction, music, art, and interviews, he explores various portrayals of the conjurer -- backward buffoon, rebel against authority, and symbol of racial pride. He also examines the actual work performed by conjurers, including the use of pharmacologically active herbs to treat illness, psychology to ease mental ailments, fear to bring about the death of enemies and acquittals at trials, and advice to encourage clients to succeed on their own. By critically examining the many influences that have shaped conjure over time, Anderson effectively redefines magic as a cultural power, one that has profoundly touched the arts, black Christianity, and American society overall.

 

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User Review  - Dead_Dreamer - LibraryThing

Jeffery Anderson's CONJURE IN AFRICAN AMERICAN SOCIETY is by far the most scholarly book on hoodoo practices and beliefs I've ever read. Often academic books such as this can be rather dry, but ... Read full review

Contents

The Invisible Conjurer The Disappearance of Hoodoo from Conceptions of Black Society
1
The African Foundation of Black American Magic
25
European and Native American Building Blocks of Hoodoo
50
The Social Context of Hoodoo in NineteenthCentury Black Life
75
Performing and Marketing Hoodoo
90
Changes in Hoodoo into the Twentieth Century
112
Hoodoo at the Turn of the Twentyfirst Century
134
The Importance of Conjure in African American Society
150
Notes
161
Note on Sources
189
Bibliography
199
Index
221
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About the author (2007)

Jeffrey E. Anderson is an assistant professor of history at Middle Georgia College and lives in Cochran.

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